was regarded as the best division in football as little as 3 years ago. However, as with most things in life, times have changed. I listened to a podcast recently which declared the NFC West as among one of the worst in football. Last year, the NFC West had 3 less combined wins than any other division and 7 less than the third lowest. The division couldn’t even boast about it’s stout defenses as it has done for the past few years. Has anything changed, or are we ready to forget about the NFC West for a few seasons longer?
Last year 10-5-1
This year 11-5
Not much has changed in Seattle this offseason and they look set to dominate the NFC as well as the NFC again this year. They struggled last year with an injured Russel Wilson, injured running backs and a poor offensive line. However, their D was as dominant as ever. Russ is said to be healthy again and they’ve brought in Eddie Lacy to bolster their power run game. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor have recovered from injuries and they haven’t yet traded Richard Sherman. With a home stadium as formidable as Century Link Field, I can’t see the Seahawks giving up this division just yet.
Last year 7-8-1
This year 6-10
The Cardinals are a team who have missed their Superbowl window. At 13-3, they dominated the division in 2015 but looked lacklustre at times last year. There’s no doubt that they have some of the league’s best talents in David Johnson, Tyrann Matthieu, Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald but it’s an ageing team who are set to decline again this year. At 37, Carson Palmer is no spring chicken and his receiving core is nothing on what it was predicted to be this time 12 months ago. David Johnson will win games for this team, but not enough to better last year’s record.
San Francisco 49ers
Last year 2-14
This year 6-10
It’s all change in the Bay as Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly have been replaced by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan respectively. Kyle Shanahan was the OC last year for the league’s highest scoring offensive and looks to improve San Francisco’s 5th lowest scoring offense. Robert Saleh has been brought in as DC and has adopted a Seattle style 4-3 system. The 49ers have invested 4 first round picks into their front 7 in the last 3 years and they’re quietly building a young, powerful D. This isn’t the year for the 49ers, but look for them to improve drastically on last year’s abomination. Lynch and Shanahan are here for the long haul and have totally remodeled the roster. They’ll be back in the playoffs in as few as 2 years time.
Los Angeles Rams
Last year 4-12
This year 5-11
The Rams simply can’t get any worse on offense than what they were last year. They were painful to watch and I’m surprised Jeff Fisher lasted as long as he did. They threw Jared Goff into the limelight in week 11, Todd Gurley looked a shadow of his 2016 self, the O line forgot to show up and only Kenny Britt managed 1000 receiving yards (1002). This offseason they’ve appointed Sean McVay as HC, made changes across the O line and Gurley has commented on how vast the offensive improvements have been. I don’t think the Rams will struggle on D but they’ll still have one of the worst offenses in football.
The NFC West will be slightly better than last year but it will still be one of the worst divisions in football. It will only produce 1 playoff contender but ¾ teams are headed in the right direction. Defenses will outplay the offenses and will continue to do so for some years to come.
By David Davenport
Follow David on Twitter: @Dav_TidyNFL
Photo per www.si.com