Complete NFC West Preview
Here is a look at what you can expect from the Rams, Seahawks, 49ers and Cards this season…
Los Angeles Rams
There’s no other way to interpret the Rams’ aggressive offseason: L.A. is aiming for the Super Bowl. A once-middling defense now might boast the best interior rush and secondary in the NFL. An explosive offense replaced one Pro Bowl vertical threat with another, better weapon and still has a 2,000-yard MVP candidate in the backfield. All signs point to the Rams continuing their NFC West supremacy and pushing toward a deep playoff run. But do they have enough for a Super Bowl run? In an insanely deep NFC race, they’re going to need all the weapons they can muster.
San Francisco 49ers
If the 49ers’ season-ending five-game winning streak wasn’t a mirage, they could contend for a playoff spot, assuming QB Jimmy Garoppolo stays healthy. The 49ers haven’t made the playoffs or had a winning record since going 12-4 and reaching the NFC title game in 2013, former coach Jim Harbaugh’s next-to-last season with the team.
The Seahawks lost far too much talent in one offseason to improve their situation. They conducted a major housecleaning that proved disconcerting to both fans and returning players. A glory era ended. “Every year it’s not fun when guys leave, but this hurt pretty bad,” outside linebacker K.J. Wright says. Realistically, a team revamp as extensive as this is going to take a few seasons — and more moves — to take hold. Expect Seattle to hover around .500 and be home during the playoffs again.
A healthy Sam Bradford at quarterback might be enough to make even the most skeptical critics rethink their conclusions about the Cardinals, but history isn’t on Bradford’s side, and with the departures of so many key players across the board, it’s difficult to believe this is a credible playoff team. If Arizona’s defense can keep the team in games and Johnson once again threatens 1,000 yards as both a rusher and a pass catcher, then maybe there’s a chance of a winning record. The wild card could be Josh Rosen. If the rookie quarterback gets thrust into the spotlight early, a lot of things could change.