Here is the NFC West installment of an eight-part series sharing five predictions for each division in the NFL.
The best quarterback in the division
Seahawks Russell Wilson will once again be in the MVP conversation this season … as seems to be the case every season. With the team in tentative talks to bring Marshawn Lynch back, that would translate to a run game that Wilson will benefit from. The lack of a running game after a wave of injuries decimated the position and all but derailed the team’s playoff run. Also, after a breakout rookie season, look for a big season from second-year receiver D.K. Metcalf.
The second-best quarterback plays in the desert
The addition of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins moves last season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Kyler Murray, just one slot behind Wilson. Pairing Hopkins with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk will bode well for Murray. The emergence of Kenyan Drake and his prowess out of the backfield will also help to alleviate any sophomore jitters for his young quarterback.
The 49ers still remain the team to beat
While offensively other teams in this division may be better on paper, the reigning NFC champions are the most complete team. What they may slightly lack offensively is easily eliminated by an upper-echelon defense. A defensive front that wreaked havoc on even the best offensive lines a season ago will continue to do so this season.
Todd Gurley will be missed more than many think
For a team that plays in one of the league’s tighter divisions, the Los Angeles Rams traded Brandin Cooks and released a pair of veterans in linebacker Clay Matthews and running back Todd Gurley. While it was in an effort to free up cap space, the void left by the dual-threat out of that backfield may be one that is difficult for Jared Goff and co. to overcome.
This division will end up similar to last season
While the Arizona Cardinals will be immensely improved, the division will once again be a two-team race between the Seahawks and 49ers. This season, however, the Seahawks will edge out their rivals to win this division.