We wrap up our NFL preview with the NFC West, one of the toughest divisions in the league. Last year, the Arizona Cardinals surprised a lot of people (but not me) by beating the Seattle Seahawks to win the division, and then ended up going farther in the playoffs. Will things change or will that be the case this year as well?
- Seattle Seahawks (NFC Divisional): It wasn’t until the end of the season that the Seahawks really caught fire. Quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin were untouchable at that point. The biggest news surrounding Seattle is the retirement of running back Marshawn Lynch. The loss of “Beast Mode” is tough, but I think Thomas Rawls is more than ready to shoulder the bulk of the carries in the backfield. The defense will be as strong as ever and now with a full season with Wilson under his belt, tight end Jimmy Graham should be able to have more production in the offense. All in all, the Seahawks will, as usual, be among the premier teams in the NFC.
- Arizona Cardinals (NFC Championship): It’s not that I necessarily think that the Cardinals are worse than the Seahawks. If 1A and 1B were options, I’d have chosen those. However, I just don’t know how quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald can replicate their seasons from one year ago at their age. Nonetheless, if they do manage to have a similar level of production, then not only are the Cardinals likely the team to beat in the division, they’re one of the teams to beat in the whole NFL. Running back and my savior in Fantasy last year David Johnson is ready to take over the starting role, and Arizona’s defense is just as good as Seattle’s. This could be the year the Cardinals win their long-awaited Super Bowl.
- Los Angeles Rams: They say a change of scenery is good for teams that struggle to get over the hump between mediocrity and success, but the Rams took it more literally when they moved all of their stuff from St. Louis to LA. Along with the new city comes a new quarterback in Jared Goff. While he may not start immediately, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Goff takes the reins of the offense at some point this season. What remains to be seen is how running back Todd Gurley and the rest of the offense will respond to that change. Expect the Rams to struggle this year, but if Goff does well, they will be moving in the direction they so desperately need.
- San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are so bad that they benched quarterback Colin Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert last year. Enough said. San Francisco will be in the running for the top pick of the draft.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten