The NFC West is quickly becoming one of the best all around divisions in the NFL with three of the four teams in the division this year have a chance to take the division. But who will actually live up to expectations and get it done? Or will we have a surprise team take the division this year? Here are my NFC West Predictions.
San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have a really tough start of the season with the first five games being against teams that all have playoff potential, but if any team is up for the challenge it would be the 49ers. In just week two they will travel to Seattle in a huge match up early on in the season. If they can win that game, I believe without a doubt that they will win the division. The 49ers are returning stud running back Frank Gore who has looked good so far this preseason in limited action. They did take a hit though when Crabtree went down with an injury and is expected to miss substantial time but the club brought in Anquan Boldin who will provide a good target for 2nd year QB Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers will go as far a Kaepernick can take them, they have the best defense in the league, solid receiving core, and arguably the best offensive line, so really the only unknown is how will he be in his first full season as a starter and I believe he will lead the team to a division title.
Saint Louis Rams – Now, I know I’m going to take some heat for this prediction because many consider the Seahawks to be Super Bowl contenders, but I honestly believe the Rams are the 2nd best team in this division. The Rams split games with the Seahawks last year in very close games, and tied one with the 49ers and lost the next in OT. So the Rams can compete with both of them and they only got better this off-season. The did lose Amendola but Tavon Austin should fill those shoes quickly, and they have talented young backs to take over for Steven Jackson, and they also picked up right tackle Jake Long to help sure up that offensive line. Then if you just take a look at that Rams defense it is just loaded with talent now much like the other teams in the NFC West. I put them over the Seahawks because not only do I believe they will beat the Seahawks at least once this year but they also have the easier schedule in my mind.
Seattle Seahawks – The big question with the Seahawks is how will Russell Wilson be in his second season as the starter. Will he have the Sophomore Slump? Or will he keep on rolling? I don’t think he will necessarily have the sophomore slump, but I don’t think his numbers will be as good as last year. He was in the top 10 last year in total QBR 69.6 only behind Kaepernick in the NFC West who had a 76.8 but played fewer games than Wilson. Wilson however took the 12th most sacks in the league last year and will need to improve on that if the Seahawks want to compete for the division and compete in the playoffs. The Seahawks took a step back though when they lost Percy Harvin who has no timetable for a return and with him out Wilson will have to rely more on Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate more. On the defensive side of the ball they are stacked though and have one of the best defensive backs core in the league. Overall I don’t think the Seahawks will live up to expectations and finish 3rd in the division.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals are by far the worst team in the division and have no chance at getting any other spot than the last place. Sorry Cardinals fans, but this just won’t be your year. It’s not that they’re not talented, because they have some talent on that team and Carson Palmer has a chance to do some good things there, but they are just in a really competitive division. They will surprise and win more games than people may predict, but not enough to compete for the division. If Fitzgerald doesn’t get back on track this year, they will be in a lot of trouble but I don’t see him being down two years in a row. Overall they will finish last in the division this season but I look for them to make some moves and be more competitive next season.