We head next to the NFC West. The battle for the worst division in football starts here, and before we’re done, the battle may be over.
- Los Angeles 11-5
- Seattle 9-7
- Arizona 8-8
- San Francisco 6-10
The Niners finished the season as the hottest team in the division behind Jimmy Gwop’s 5-game win streak. Only thing is, they got hot about 12 games too late. Fear not, 2018 is here and Jimmy will have a full season to work his magic. Seattle finished second and saw the Legion of Doom meet its demise. Arizona lost their old ball coach, and that is depressing. A league without Bruce Arians is a league that I am not proud of. The Rams were the surprise stars behind Todd Gurley and a surprisingly effective Jared Goff. They will look to dominate the division once again, and with Seattle’s regression, it looks as though the Rams might solidify a first-round bye by week 10.
Los Angeles Rams
Key Addition: Too Many to Count
The Rams are ALL IN in 2018. Trading for Marcus Peters and Brandin Cooks, signing Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh, this Los Angeles team set the bar high for stacking the deck. A bar that the Lakers tried to surpass but fell flat on their back despite snagging LeBron. The defense that was already a menace anchored by Aaron Donald is going to be even better this year. Brandin Cooks is the deep threat target that they thought Sammy Watkins would be. Yikes.
Eye Test: 20/20
A great defense gets better. A young QB has one more year of experience. The best RB in the league is set to run wild again. The Rams are seeing perfectly clear and I don’t see anything that can stop them from running off with a division that is full of declining teams (expect for the 49ers because it’s hard to decline from rock bottom). I wouldn’t be surprised if this LA team doesn’t lose a game until playoff time, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Jared Goff threw a hundred INT’s and Todd Gurley got hurt and they miss the playoffs.
Key Addition: Brandon Marshall
Let’s be honest, not a whole lot going on over here in Seattle other than the departure of the Legion of Doom. Earl Thomas is holding out, as expected. Brandon Marshall is great. He comes into a situation that needs a playmaker not named Russ and he’ll get his shot. He may be my only ‘Key Addition’ that may not even make the team, but he also has a shot at making the biggest impact. Stretching the field for a running game that has been non-existent since Marshawn Lynch left is going to be a must for this team to even sniff the playoff picture.
Eye Test: Far-Sighted
This team is now a couple years and couple good drafts away from contending again. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pete Carroll hung up the old ball-coaching cleats before they make a run at the Lombardi Trophy again.
San Francisco 49ers
Key Addition: Dick Sherman
Can he hold up after coming off an Achilles injury? Will he be able to use his experience and veteran tenacity to spark a fairly poor San Francisco secondary? I look to King Richard to have a decent year and, along with Jimmy Gwap, drag the Niners out of the NFC West cellar they have occupied ever since Harbaugh took his talents to Ann Arbor.
Eye Test: Near-Sighted
The Niners are trending in the right direction. They finally have a quarterback who has shown he can win games in a tough and competitive NFC West. This just won’t be the year that they break through. But lookout for San Fran in 2020.
Key Addition: Sam Bradford?
Carson Palmer is gone. Blaine Gabbert is not the answer. Josh Rosen seems to be the QB of the future. But right now, it’s Sam Bradford’s team. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a career year with a healthy David Johnson and a sustainable Larry Fitzgerald, but all those passing yards and TD’s are going to come while climbing out of a deep hole dug by the defense. That secondary is not what it once was.
Eye Test: Extremely Far/Near-Sighted
It’s going to be awhile before the Arizona Cardinals are relevant again. Bruce Arians and his killer Kangol are gone. Carson Palmer is gone. Is Josh Rosen the answer at quarterback? Many people are saying yes, I’m saying no. David Johnson has maybe 1-2 more really, really good years before he slips into running back mediocrity (think Priest Holmes, folks).
Catch up on all of our NFL division previews here.