2019 NFC West Preview

1. Los Angeles Rams– They had a huge offseason last year by signing a ton of big names. I’ll admit I was concerned because of the potential “clashing personalities”. They won 13 games, won the NFC West for the second straight year and represented the conference in Super Bowl 53 after winning the NFC Championship for the first time since 2002. They may have lost some of those names from last year, but they did resign and bring some other guys in. First, they resigned Dante Fowler who was big for them last year down the stretch, they signed Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle to add some veteran experience to that defense. Cooper Kupp will return to the offense after his season was cut short when he tore his ACL. Their offense should rank as one of the best in the league again with Goff, Gurley and their trio of wide receivers in Kupp, Cooks and Woods. The defense should be sharp again under Wade Phillips. Especially with the reigning two-time defensive player of the year in Aaron Donald.

2. Seattle Seahawks– Things looked bleak for them at one point in 2018. After missing the playoffs in 2017, they made their return to January for the seventh time in nine seasons under Pete Carroll. Russell Wilson threw 35 touchdown passes; a career high. Seattle will always be at their best when they are running the football and they got back to their bread and butter. The key for a successful season in 2019 is their offensive line. Russ can’t continuously scramble for his life if he doesn’t have a pocket to stand in. Although their defense lost many of their big names, I still expect them to be one of the top units in the league with Bobby Wagner patrolling the middle and being their leader. In March, the Seahawks gave Russ a contract extension which made him the highest paid player in the league.

3. San Francisco 49ers– They entered last season with some high expectations after trading for Jimmy Garoppolo midseason in 2017. Things sadly came tumbling down when the young quarterback tore his ACL and was lost for the entire season. The team struggled throughout the year finishing with a 4-12 record and injuries didn’t help either. There’s a lot of potential for the 49ers. They have a young quarterback, veteran running back in Jerick McKinnon, a stud at tight end in George Kittle and a defense with a lot of talent in each tier. In the Draft this year, they selected Nick Bosa with the second overall pick from Ohio State to give them a consistent pass rusher. Something they haven’t had since the Aldon Smith days. I’m ready to see what’s in store for the 49ers this year.

4. Arizona Cardinals– It’s been the struggle for this fanbase as of late. They won three games which secured them the top pick in the NFL Draft this past April. Steve Wilkes was fired after just one season with the franchise. The team decided to hire Kliff Kingsbury as their new head coach after he was hired by USC to be their next offensive coordinator. I liked the hire a lot, especially with him being a younger coach which seems to be the wave around the league with teams hiring younger guys. As expected, the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the draft. Is he the guy that can bring some competitiveness back to the franchise? As a defense, Chandler Jones will continue to wreak havoc as a pass rusher. However, the team will be without Patrick Peterson for the first six weeks as he serves a suspension for violating the drug policy.

2019 Predictions

1. Rams (12-4)

2. Seahawks (10-6)

3. 49ers (6-10)

4. Cardinals (4-12)

I’m picking the Rams to win the NFC West for the third consecutive season. Jared Goff continues to take strides under Sean McVay, Todd Gurley will be back and hopefully he can stay healthy, Cooper Kupp returns after tearing his ACL. He’s important to this offense because he serves as that safety valve for Goff. Defensively, Wade will have them ready to play again. It will be another fun year for the defending NFC Champs.