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2016 NFL Forecast : NFC West

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The official Baltimore Beatdown Staff outlook

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC West has been arguably the top division in the NFL recently, placing at least one team in the NFC Conference Championship game during each of the previous five seasons.

After polling the Beatdown staff, our NFC West predictions were nearly unanimous...

First Place - Arizona Cardinals :

This is arguably the best team in the NFL. They made it as far as the NFC Championship game, before running into the Panthers. The Cardinals only got better from last year. Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche are additions to the already stacked defensive line in Glendale. Oh yeah, the Cardinals also get Tyrann "The Honey Badger" Matheiu back from injury. David Johnson had a great rookie season, and seems primed to improve on it. This is one scary team. - Matt Cohen

Don't think they win as many games as last year, but the biggest, baddest D got even better by bolstering the pass rush via trade and the draft. Offense should be top half of the league again, with D. Johnson taking the next step. - Yitzi Weiss

The Cardinals posted a 13-3 record last season, and boast the most well rounded roster in the league. In addition to the new pass rushers, they added Evan Mathis to Iupati and Veldheer on the OL and have three proven playmaking receivers. Their defense is led by Patrick Peterson and uses a very aggressive scheme. Carson Palmer’s playoff struggles should be Bruce Arians’ only concern. - Vasilis Lericos

Second Place - Seattle Seahawks :

It has been 3 years since the Seahawks dominated the Broncos in the Super Bowl, and while things did not come easy for the Seahawks in 2015, they finished the year strong by winning 6 of their last 7 to make the playoffs once again. Even though they lost Brandon Mebane and Bruce Irvin, they still bring back a strong defense and an offense led by one of the most exciting players in the game, Russell Wilson. All Wilson does is win. I don't think The Seahawks will win the division, but they will take a wild card spot and will be a dangerous threat in the playoffs. - Evan Mazza

The Seahawks offense was red hot in the second half of the season. They barely escaped a frigid playoff game in Minnesota, and made a thrilling comeback in Charlotte that fell just short. But this team seems to ready to take a step back. The offensive line frankly is not very good. Thomas Rawls put up eye popping numbers in his chances as a rookie, but it is hard to know whether they were too good to be true. On top of this, the team is aging quickly. - Matt Cohen

Russell Wilson was outstanding last season, turning Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett into stars despite a weak OL. The defense has excellent pass coverage personnel at linebacker and in the secondary, but their pass rushers are starting to get older. - Vasilis Lericos

Third Place - Los Angeles Rams :

It's still weird saying "The Los Angeles Rams." It is a new era in not just the history of the Rams, but pro football in Los Angeles. The Rams are back in LA with some exciting talent like the 2015 defensive player of the year in Todd Gurley and the 1st overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, quarterback Jared Goff. Not to mention a good young defense led by the 2014 defensive rookie of the year, Aaron Donald. 2016 will be all about Goff and watching to see how he progesses and develops throughout the year. If he does, and the Rams can get him some weapons, they will be a team to watch out for in 2017. - Evan Mazza

Death, taxes, and Jeff Fisher going 7-9 are the only three guarantees in life. That should probably continue as rookie quarterback Jared Goff deals with some growing pains in his first NFL season. Keep an eye on running back Todd Gurley this season, as he continues to mature into one of the league's top flight running backs. - Jacob Louque

Fourth place - San Francisco 49ers :

It has been a meteoric drop to the bottom for an organization that just a few seasons ago was looked at as a potential NFL dynasty. Chip Kelly has shown an ability to maximize talent at the NFL level, but the cupboard is so bare in San Francisco that it doesn't look to be in the cards for him this year. In fact, fans could possibly expect the 49ers to be in contention for the number one overall draft pick. - Jacob Louque

Chip Kelly brings his flamboyant personality and style to the Bay Area. Believe it or not, Kelly drafted a talented Oregon defensive lineman, DeForest Bucker. Already, Bucker is arguably the best player on the team, and he hasn't taken a snap. This team has some work to do. - Matt Cohen

San Francisco has a long way to go before they field a real NFL caliber team. The Crimson Tide may be able to take them this year. - Yitzi Weiss

How do you see the NFC West race unfolding in 2016?