With two contenders and two bottom dwellers, the battle lines are clearly defined in the NFC West. Seattle won the division for the third time in four years with 10 wins last season, but fell to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs. Arizona suffered from a handful of tight losses and finished a half game below .500. The 49ers and Rams combined to win six total games.
Other divisions have overtaken the West in the NFC, but the top two teams have enough playmakers to make some noise with a little luck. 2017 may be the best chance for a while to add to the division’s trophy case because the Seahawks and Cardinals rely on aging players. Final division standings predictions:
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks defense maintains above average personnel, yet they are not the dominating unit they once were. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright form the heart of the group, with ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril providing pressure up front. When healthy, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are still the best safety duo in the NFL. The cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman is an exploitable weakness.
Doug Baldwin has developed into a top flight receiver and Paul Richardson is ready to breakout. They, along with Jimmy Graham, will be primary targets for Russell Wilson. However, a below par offensive line caps the ceiling of this team.
2. Arizona Cardinals
A rebound season from Arizona will depend directly on Carson Palmer. Their offensive line is decent at best, but dynamic running back David Johnson is capable of thriving anyway. Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown form a nice receiver corps.
The Cardinals play an aggressive brand of defense. Shutdown corner Patrick Peterson and ballhawking safety Tyrann Mathieu allow for some creative play calls. Breakout pass rushers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden have enough juice to compensate for the loss of Calais Campbell. This team has some real flaws, but Bruce Arians is a talented coach who should have his club in the wildcard mix.
3. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams appear ready to roll with young quarterback Jared Goff under new head coach Sean McVay. The receiving group centered around Tavon Austin, Robert Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp does not inspire much confidence. Power back Todd Gurley is hoping new left tackle Andrew Whitworth will open up some running lanes.
Excellent defensive coordination Wade Phillips should produce a sturdy defense. Elite lineman Aaron Donald, along with fellow tackle Michael Brockers and edge rusher Robert Quinn give the Rams plenty of firepower up front. Rangy linebacker Alec Ogletree, corner Trumaine Johnson and versatile defensive back Lamarcus Joyner will provide Phillips with some pieces to work with. Overall, Los Angeles is getting better, but still a couple years away from truly contending.
4. San Francisco 49ers
Offensive specialist Kyle Shanahan was brought in to oversee an comprehensive rebuild in the Bay Area. He has his work cut out for him as the 49ers offensive building blocks include only steady tackle Joe Staley, free agent signing Pierre Garcon and possibly tailback Carlos Hyde.
San Francisco has invested considerable resources into their defensive line, including first round selections Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. The linebacking corps is solid but aging. Safety Eric Reid is generally underrated around the league. The rest of the secondary will be their downfall, they do not have the quality at corner to matchup with high powered offenses.
Who will win the NFC West?
This poll is closed