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2020 Season Predictions Roundtable: NFC West

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Considered by many to be the best overall division in the NFL, the NFC West features four competitive teams with Super Bowl aspirations.

In 2019, the NFC champion 49ers claimed the division crown over the perennial contender Seahawks. The Rams are one season removed from their own Super Bowl run and the Cardinals are poised to make a leap.

Baltimore Beatdown staff’s predictions:


1. Seattle

2. Arizona*

3. San Francisco*

4. Los Angeles

With four talented teams and capable coaching staffs, this is a difficult division to peg. Ultimately, the nod goes to Seattle’s Russell Wilson, one of the top-3 quarterbacks in the game today. Wilson will have a tandem of dangerous wideouts at his disposal in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. While the Seahawks defense lacks star power on the edges, Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams comprise a sturdy backbone.

After adding DeAndre Hopkins and Isaiah Simmons to their core of Kyler Murray, Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals have the premium position playmakers required to earn a wildcard berth. Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers boast an excellent group of blockers and ferocious defensive front headlined by Nick Bosa, but potential issues at receiver and in their secondary could cause a slight regression to wildcard status. Despite fielding unique talents such as Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, Sean McVay’s roster is handicapped by the decisions to pay Todd Gurley and Jared Goff.

- Vasilis Lericos


1. Seattle

2. San Francisco*

3. Arizona

4. Los Angeles

Seattle is set up to win now. They gave up two first round picks for an All-Pro safety in Jamal Adams, they still have Russel Wilson, and they have the best middle linebacker in the NFL, Bobby Wagner. They were just a few inches shy of winning the division in 2019, and they show no reason why they would take any step back. Not only do they have a lot of established playerss, but DK Metcalf is heading into is sophomore year and has the potential to be the biggest surprise star at the receiver position.

San Francisco is going to take a step back this season. History shows, with little exception, that Super Bowl hangover is real, and that needs to be accounted for when evaluating this team. They lost a major player in their defensive line in DeForest Buckner and there are still many questions surrounding Jimmy Garappolo. They will surely not miss the playoffs, but I am doubtful they can beat out Seattle for the division.

Arizona has added a lot of great pieces to their team, the famously traded for WR DeAndre Hopkins without giving up a first round pick. They landed a brand new linebacker in the draft with Simmons and they have Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray as well as head coach Kliff Kingsbury entering their second season together in the NFL. All that being said, the team is still seemingly rough around the edges, and in a loaded NFC, I wouldn’t be surprised if they barely miss the playoffs.

The Rams are in football limbo right now, not having enough talent to truly compete for a title, while simultaneously not having any draft picks to rebuild the team for the future. I could see a world in which they win a few coin flip games and sneak into the playoffs, however the most likely scenario to me is that they can’t get their offense moving to keep up with the rest of the teams in the NFC and can’t find their way past seven wins.

- Peter Daubert


1. Arizona

2. Seattle*

3. San Francisco*

4. Los Angeles

I’m huge on Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in 2020. A competent offseason which yielded Hopkins and Simmons, who I see as a Derwin James clone, also wisely dumping David Johnson’s contract and solidifying the offensive line. To me, those moves show organizational competency combined with Kliff Kingsbury’s modest swagger, should be a winner. Kyler Murray was the most accurate deep passer in the NFL last season, now combined with a deep, experienced receiver group, smells like a Lamar Jackson/Patrick Mahomes like Year Two in the making.

Seattle will continue to shoot themselves in the foot, while still winning football games. While “The 12th man” will be quiet (in comparison to a typical year) and the Seahawks travel more than any team in football, they feel like another 10-6 or 11-5 football team. Metcalf is primed for a monster year two, while the Seahawks added one of the best defensive players in the league, who will play alongside another All-Pro defender in Wagner, by wisely acquiring Jamal Adams. Will their offense finally embrace and truly feature Russell Wilson as a passer? Doubtful, which handicaps them in an inefficient run-heavy ground and pound.

San Francisco’s Super Bowl hangover feels imminent. If Javon Kinlaw can remotely fill the void left by DeForest Buckner, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Nick Bosa and company will propel San Francisco’s defense to the playoffs. Kyle Shanahan will manufacture offense, especially if Deebo Samuel’s foot holds up. I do still absolutely believe the 49ers will be in the playoffs, and could realistically repeat as divison winners in the toughest division in football.

Los Angeles feels like the least exciting team in the division despite their star power. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will need to dominate in new Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley’s defense if they want to return to the postseason. Staley has been the outside linebackers coach for Khalil Mack, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb over the past three seasons and has a great reputation. This division is the best in football in 2020. I wouldn’t be shocked to see all four teams make the post season, as three wild card spots make that a possibility. Arizona and Los Angeles could trade places, the competition is just that close.

- Spencer Schultz


1. Seattle

2. Arizona*

3. San Francisco

4. Los Angeles

The Seattle Seahawks are the most complete team in the division. With the addition of Jamal Adams, their defense looks scary and will look to dominate on a weekly basis. Further development from Metcalf in addition to the consistency of Tyler Lockett and Russell Wilson should allow for the offense to be even better than last year. Despite questions at the running back position, Seattle has always seemed to find solutions at that spot.

Arizona, led by Kyler Murray, will be one of the most improved teams this season. I believe Murray will be an MVP candidate for this season as he continues to build upon a promising rookie season. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins will allow for mismatches to be created with the defense as Hopkins will be moved all around the field. Via the draft, the team finally addressed the offensive line by nabbing Josh Jones in the second round. I expect the Cardinals to be much improved from last season.

I believe San Fransisco is destined for a down year. With injuries to players such as Deebo Samuel, the team may have a hard time early in the season. Regardless, the 49ers will still be in contention for a playoff spot, but I don’t think they will make it this year. The Los Angeles Rams are another team that I envision struggling. Their time for playoff contention has come and went, and they’d be lucky to reach a .500 record this season.

- Adrian Charchalis


1. Seattle

2. San Francisco*

3. Los Angeles

4. Arizona

The Seahawks made headlines for trading for superstar safety Adams earlier this offseason. Such move that involved multiple first-round picks indicates how aggressive Seattle is in their goal to win another Super Bowl with Russell Wilson in his prime. Wilson should enjoy another stellar season with a strong supporting cast. The addition of Adams and the likely regression of San Francisco gives the Seahawks an opening to snatch the division title.

The 49ers are due to come back down to Earth after their surprising 2019 season that resulted in a Super Bowl appearance. The division should be tougher in 2020, and San Francisco has lost some key players, most notably Buckner and wideout Emmanuel Sanders. Standout receiver Deebo Samuel injured his foot this offseason so, he will likely miss the start of his sophomore campaign. The 49ers defense played at an elite level last season, but such a level of play is hard to sustain.

The Rams finished with a 9-7 record last season after making the Super Bowl the year before. I expect similar results in 2020, mainly in part to the level of competition in the division. Jared Goff will have to bounce back in a big way for Los Angeles to have a shot at winning the NFC West. The Cardinals are a popular choice as one of the most improved teams this season, but I still think they are a year away from truly competing for the division. Kyler Murray is poised for a leap in his second season, especially with the arrival of Hopkins. The offensive line and defense remain question marks, however, and could hold Arizona back from being the playoff team that many envision. I predict they will improve from their 5-10 record from 2019, but will still finish last in the division at 8-8.

- Dustin Cox


1. Seattle

2. San Francisco*

3. Arizona*

4. Los Angeles

The Seahawks are still led by the best quarterback in the division, Russell Wilson, and DK Metcalf should take a step forward in his development this season. I’m also cautiously optimistic about a potential Josh Gordon return, who the Seahawks reportedly want to re-sign. The new CBA will help him stay on the field, if he is reinstated. On the defensive side of the ball, Jamal Adams will be a game-changer.

Losing DeForest Buckner will hurt, but San Francisco’s Super Bowl core is still largely intact. Running back Raheem Mostert is a player to watch after an impressive stretch in the second half of the season, which included rushing for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.

I expect Kyler Murray to improve in his second season, and newly acquired wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins coupled with running back Kenyon Drake could make this offense dynamic. Chandler Jones, Budda Baker, and Patrick Peterson are strong pieces, but there are questions surrounding the rest of the defense.

The Rams lost Dante Fowler, Todd Gurley, Cory Littleton, and Brandin Cooks this offseason. I expect them to continue to regress in 2020.

- Jakob Ashlin


1. Seattle

2. San Francisco*

3. Arizona

4. Los Angeles

Such a talented division could end up looking a number of different ways at the end of the season, but I struggle to envision a scenario in which the Seahawks and 49ers are not once again on top of the NFC West.

Unlike last year, though, I like the Seahawks to win the division. They were neck-and-neck with San Fransisco towards the end of last season but late-season injuries to Chris Carson and Will Dissly proved costly. Russell Wilson is simply fantastic and the addition of Jamal Adams on defense will prove to be a huge splash. As for the 49ers, I don’t see them falling off like others have predicted. With great coaching and a talented roster, they’ll avoid the dreaded “Super Bowl Hangover” and again finish with double-digit wins.

The biggest wild card is the Cardinals. If the Cardinals played in any other division, I would predict them to finish with a winning record and earn a postseason berth. However, having to face Seattle and San Francisco twice each is a daunting task for such a young team, and I think they’ll fall victim to what will be a loaded race for the NFC’s final playoff spot. Arizona will be one of the most exciting teams in the NFL, though, and finish with eight or nine wins.

I’m not particularitqy high on the Rams in 2020. I think their window to contend with their current core has largely closed and after taking a slight step back last season, I’m envisioning a 7-9 finish this year. They lost quite a bit of talent this offseason on both sides of the ball. Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald are stellar, but the defensive talent surrounding them won’t be enough to overcome the team’s decline on offense.

- Frank J. Platko


Poll

Who will win the NFC West?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    San Francisco
    (51 votes)
  • 58%
    Seattle
    (96 votes)
  • 7%
    Arizona
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Los Angeles
    (3 votes)
163 votes total Vote Now