NFC West Season Preview
Of all the divisions in the NFL, the NFC West could be seen as the best, as all four teams are just loaded with talent. The NFC West has produced the last two NFC Super Bowl representatives, the 49ers and the Rams, both of which lost to the AFC. This year could be the most competitive the division has ever been with the 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams all making big additions to their roster.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are coming off of a 13-3 Super Bowl run in which they fell just short, losing to the Chiefs 31-20. Their sights are set on another Super Bowl run, but the road won’t be easy, as they face a difficult schedule. Not only will they face tough division play, but there will be some big out-of-division games against the Eagles, Packers, Saints, Bills and Cowboys as well.
The key players for the Niners are their young studs in All-Pro tight end George Kittle and Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa. Some big offseason additions include seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, both of which will provide support for starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
It’s clear that the 49ers are the team to beat in this division in which getting to the playoffs will be the goal and anything short of that will be seen as a failure.
The Seahawks return to action after a playoff appearance in which they lost to the Packers in the divisional round. Similar to the 49ers, Seattle’s schedule includes big games against the Cowboys, Bills and Eagles alongside divisional play.
For Seattle to return to the playoffs, it starts with MVP-caliber quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is coming off a Pro Bowl year in which he threw for 4,110 yards and 31 touchdowns. In the offseason, the Seahawks lost Jadeveon Clowney but added rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks out of Texas Tech and All-Pro safety Jamal Adams in a trade with the Jets.
The Seahawks will challenge the 49ers for the division this year, but like last year, they will lose a close game to the Niners in the season finale and miss out on the division title.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are coming off a disappointing 2019 season, a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance, in which they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Their roster is still filled with loads of talent, though, and they are led by their defensive rocks in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Pro-Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey. But a big loss for the Rams was incurred with the departure of Todd Gurley, as the former All-Pro was released and then signed a deal with the Falcons. Replacing Gurley is rookie running back Cam Akers.
The road back to the playoffs will not be easy, as the Rams face the 10th-toughest schedule. They will have important games against the Cowboys, Eagles, Bills, Bears and Buccaneers.
All things considered, the Rams will likely have a middle-of-the-pack year in which the inability to beat the 49ers and Seahawks will be the thing stopping them.
The Cardinals have been pinned as the team to take the biggest jump from last season. Second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury is coming off a 5-10-1 record and a last-place finish in the division, but there’s a lot to look forward to this year. The big offseason move for Arizona was the acquisition of All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a blockbuster trade with the Texans. In the NFL Draft, the Cardinals got one of the best players in unanimous All-American linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
The Cardinals have the eighth-toughest schedule and will have a hard time keeping games close, as last year, they had one of the worst defenses in the league.
The Cardinals will improve, but they will still struggle, even with their offseason additions. Arizona will finish last in the division and, like the Rams, they won’t be able to beat the 49ers or the Seahawks.
Matt Scalzo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Freshman / Broadcast Journalism