The Los Angeles Rams look to remain the class of the division in 2019, as teams in the NFC West are still looking for ways to keep up.
It has been one week since the Los Angeles Rams lost to the New England Patriots 13-3 in the Super Bowl. While fans have begun the process of moving on, teams in the NFC West are beginning to make plans for how to knock Los Angeles out of the top spot.
That is easier said than done.
Despite a record of 13-3 and a clean and sweep of the division, the Rams will look to improve. While getting back to another Super Bowl is no lock, winning another NFC West title looks to be a much easier task as the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals appear to have issues that will keep them from contending.
For the Seahawks, it’s Russell Wilson or bust.
Seattle, with quarterback Russell Wilson, is likely the best team to challenge Los Angeles. Wilson, who still may be the best quarterback in the division not named Jared Goff, will also need a retooled defense if the Seahawks are to have any chance of catching the Rams. In 2018, they managed to give the Rams their toughest test in the West, losing 33-31 in Week 5 and 36-31 in Week 10.
Seattle will also need to shore up an offensive line that had Wilson running for his life far too often. As good as he is moving around and making something out of nothing, keeping him upright and healthy for 16 games is the best and only chance the Seahawks have.
Last season, they managed to hover around the .500 mark for the better part of the season before going on a run to lock up a berth on Wild Card Weekend. they would eventually lose to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-22. While the Rams are clearly the best team, Pete Carroll has his team closer than either San Francisco or Arizona.
San Francisco needs to find out how good Jimmy Garoppolo can be.
At first blush, the perception of the 49ers entering the 2018 season was one of optimism. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo coming off of a 5-0 run to close out the 2017 season, hopes were high for 2018 before the wheels came off the bus in Kansas City, where Garoppolo went down with a knee injury.
San Francisco would stumble out of the gate, going 1-3 in September and losing their starting quarterback before losing all four games in October and finishing the season a dismal 4-12. The Niners would actually show some life in December, going 2-2 with a win against the Denver Broncos 20-14, then beating the Seahawks 26-23. They would go on to lose a close one to the Chicago Bears 14-9, then close out the season with a 48-32 blowout against the Los Angeles Rams in the Coliseum.
The Niners will need 16 games from Jimmy G. before fans in the Bay Area really know what they have in a quarterback who at present is more hype than results. As disappointing as 2018 was, they look to be closer to a .500 team than a bottom feeder in the West.
The Cardinals have the top pick in the draft and a re-build on their hands.
Things aren’t trending up in Arizona, where the Cardinals finished a 3-13 campaign with little to show for silver linings. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen never really had a chance, meaning neither did his team.
Arizona will have the top overall pick in the upcoming draft, and while speculation will run rampant between now and the Commissioner taking the podium to announce the pick, expect anything and everything to be on the table.
The Cardinals are the clear doormat at present in the NFC West. The Rams beat them soundly in 2018, losing 34-0 in Week 2 and then 31-9 in Week 16. While they wrestled with the 49ers for the last place in the division, you never got the impression they were anything other than the worst team in the division. The jury also looks to be out on Rosen, and that isn’t his fault. A terrible offensive line had him picking himself off of any field he played on this season, and until that changes, Rosen looks doomed in Arizona.
That also doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon, regardless of who they take first in the draft.
The Rams look positioned for another NFC West title.
Clearly, it’s a much rosier picture in LA, but questions linger after the thud that was Super Bowl LIII. Beginning with what in the world happened to running back Todd Gurley and wrapping up with whether or not they bring defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh back for another season, the Rams will have the inside track on making it three in a row for supremacy in the NFC West.
From top to bottom, Los Angeles simply has better talent. Head coach Sean McVay demonstrated a keen ability to tweak an offense that ran away from the division early, and if players like Cooper Kupp and Gurley can rebound, the Rams will figure prominently not just out West, but in Super Bowl discussions again. While sweeping Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona is no mortal lock, the division is likely theirs for the taking a third straight time.
With few holes, the Los Angeles Rams are clearly the front runner in an NFC West that looks to finish much like it did in 2018.