Why Each NFC West Team Won’t Win Super Bowl LVIIby Ryan Potts April 16, 2022 0 comments
As free agency continues and the draft approaches, every team has some level of excitement. Some are looking to contend in 2022, while others only want to move in the right direction. The NFL is unique in that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl each season. At the same time, only one team can lift the Lombardi next February in Super Bowl LVII. The other 31 will fall short, and there are reasons why each team will not have what it takes. Let’s finish with the NFC West.
Los Angeles Rams
No team has repeated as Super Bowl champions since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots, so that sets a dangerous precedent for the Rams moving into 2022. Los Angeles only finished fourth in the NFC in the regular season, and it seems incredibly unlikely that they could navigate the same route again. The Rams only played one game away from Sofi Stadium in the postseason, a trip to Tampa Bay. Next year, they will have to win more games in the NFC to make sure they do not have to run the same gauntlet.
In all likelihood, Cooper Kupp played over his head in 2021. While he is a great receiver, no player has ever replicated that kind of dominant season. The Rams needed every ounce of Kupp’s production in 2021, so any dip in 2022 could prohibit Los Angeles from repeating. In six of their last eight wins they won by one score, including a trio of three-point victories in the playoffs. This margin of error is not as replicable as the Rams would like.
The team does have the services of Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, but they lost Von Miller who had been a tremendous influence after coming over via trade. Miller finished second in playoff pressures and earned the best overall PFF grade and pass-rush grade of any player in the postseason. The Rams did bring in reinforcements including Bobby Wagner, but Miller was quite the X-factor for the 2021 team. He will be missed.
The Cardinals have an issue with flaming out late in seasons. Sadly for them, the playoffs – most importantly the Super Bowl – are played at the end of the season. Kliff Kingsbury’s late-season chokes were legendary even when he was a college coach. For the time being, the Cardinals’ solution is to win big games, an impossibility for a franchise that has not won a championship since the Harry Truman administration. Arizona must overcome this inability to win the big game.
While the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray enter 2022 healthy, the rest of the offense lacks depth. The offensive line is a mismatched crew of average players. The Cardinals re-signed A.J. Green, but that is not necessarily the best move for 2022. James Conner is a solid running back, but he is not quite in the star tier of ball carriers. The franchise has the requisite star power to win the Super Bowl, but their depth is a step behind.
Arizona is heavily reliant on youth in their defense. Outside of Budda Baker and J.J. Watt, the Cardinals need the development from the likes of Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins, and Byron Murphy. They might pull the trigger on another defensive player early in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they still need one of their recent high picks to make the jump to stardom.
San Francisco 49ers
Heading into the 2022 season, the 49ers still have a bit of a quarterback controversy. Trey Lance is the easy answer, but the team still employs Jimmy Garoppolo. Trade options are drying up across the league, so Garoppolo is less and less likely to be dealt before 2022 begins. While Jimmy G would be a good backup, San Francisco might opt to start him over Lance if the soon-to-be 22-year-old has not developed as much as desired. Financially, Garoppolo restricts much of what the 49ers can do.
The question with the 49ers in recent seasons has been injuries. George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and other offensive studs tend to miss a handful of games each season, and any missing production could hurt the team’s Super Bowl chances. Garoppolo similarly has been an injury risk in each of his seasons on the West Coast. When he is healthy, the 49ers win a ridiculous percentage of their games. When he is not healthy, San Francisco turns into Stanford rather than an NFL team. If the 49ers are healthy, they are dangerous, but they cannot be trusted to be healthy.
For the first time in a decade, the Seahawks do not have the Super Bowl lottery ticket known as Russell Wilson. While Wilson only won one Super Bowl, having an elite quarterback gives a team a one-up over other competition. Now Seattle has the likes of Drew Lock and Geno Smith. Perhaps if they combined to form one player, they would be a top-20 quarterback, but until that technology reaches the NFL, the Seahawks will be nowhere close to a Super Bowl.
The defense, while effective in 2021, is not projected to be particularly good in 2022. D.J. Reed and Wagner are both gone, hurting the core from last season. Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are a solid safety duo, but the front nine in the Seattle defense is less than ideal. The Seahawks could struggle in all three phases of defense – pass rush, coverage, and run defense – in 2022. On the bright side, the team does have a top-10 pick to add some defensive talent (unless they waste a pick on a quarterback).
The Seahawks do not lack offensive talent, but they do have a shaky offensive line and the aforementioned disaster at quarterback. The receiving corps is strong, and Noah Fant should bolster the tight end room. Even running back Rashaad Penny had a breakout 2021 season. Seattle’s largest issue is that they do not have an above-average offensive lineman. All five of their projected starters would be a weak link on any other team in the NFL, but they form five weak links for the Seahawks as currently constructed.
Are you an optimist? All four of these teams have a chance to win the Lombardi.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
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