Handicapping NFL Futures
The NFC West has been following a similar storyline over the last several years. There is always a clear favorite, a contender and two teams looking to make a splash and surprise the division. This year is a little bit different, but also much of the same in the West.
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NFC West Overview
While the Seahawks still have a strong grip on the division, the storyline has changed a bit in the NFC West.
The 49ers, who have been challenging Seattle annually, have taken some big steps backwards with the departure or suspension of several key players.
The Rams have an actual quarterback while the Cardinals got theirs back after being out with injury last season.
No loner is it going to be Seattle vs. San Francisco, as the Rams and Cardinals are the new challengers for the division.
Why Seattle will have the most wins in the NFC West
It’s no surprise that Seattle is favored. With few negative changes afflicting the team this offseason, they can only build upon the last two seasons that saw them in the Super Bowl. Despite the Kam Chancellor holdout currently going on, the team is not all that worried because of the depth of the team.
Dion Bailey stood out in a big way this preseason, filling in for Chancellor. While no player can replicate the strong safety’s ability or play style, Bailey will have the same protections that gave Chancellor the boost to his game.
As it has been in recent years, the Seahawks lost quite a bit of staff and players to other teams. Linebackers coach Ken Norton is now the defensive coordinator in Oakland. Former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is now the head coach in Atlanta.
Three backup players got fat contracts to start elsewhere.
Then you have the deal the team made with the Saints, probably the biggest move in the offseason of all teams. Seattle sent center Max Unger and a first rounder to New Orleans for tight end Jimmy Graham, giving Russell Wilson another dangerous option in the offense.
The team added a few new players via the draft, but none stood out more than defensive end Frank Clark and wide receiver/return specialist Tyler Lockett.
While Clark won’t start, he will make a lot of noise when he does get to take the field as part of one of the most formidable pass rushes in the NFL.
Lockett on the other hand will step in immediately as the team’s leading return guy after a big drop off in that department last season. Lockett returned a kick and punt in the preseason, showing right away that the Seahawks disadvantage became a big advantage.
The schedule is tough as usual, being named one of the toughest in the NFL. The mantra “To be the best you have to beat the best” has never rang more true for Seattle this season.
Seahawks NFC West Prediction: 12-4
The addition of the NFC North and AFC North turns this schedule into a true gauntlet for the Seahawks.
Playoff caliber teams like Green Bay, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Detroit will put Seattle to the test over the course of the year. Young Minnesota is looking to make some noise this season and could pose some problems as well.
The Rams made some changes in order to compete in the division. They traded quarterback Sam Bradford for Nick Foles
and drafted a talented rookie running back in Todd Gurley. They added defensive tackle Nick Fairley as well.
The 49ers offseason was basically a dumpster fire. Multiple players retired, left for other teams or are suspended to start the season. A team who is usually in the hunt is going to have to find a way to win again and this year is not looking good for them.
The Cardinals added a lot of veterans to their time added a lot of offensive line protection for quarterback Carson Palmer. If their offensive line holds up, Arizona could make a serious push at Seattle.
The NFC West is always in a dogfight despite the recent dominance of the Seahawks. While many are predicting Seattle to make the NFC Championship game again this season, the Seahawks themselves can’t look past the season. And they know that.
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