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NFL Kickoff: The 2020 NFC West

Can the 49ers return to the Super Bowl? Will the Rams recover from last years disappointing season? What does this season have in store for the Seahawks and Cardinals?

Jimmy Garoppolo by Alexander Jonesi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

NFL Kickoff: The 2020 NFC West

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The status of the 2020 NFL Season seemed to hang in the air, drifting wide of the uprights for months. As we all watched with bated breath as the league hurdled towards disaster, the league sat back and came up with a plan of changes to ensure that players and coaches remain safe and healthy.

The NFL miraculously split the uprights and now we’re playing football in 2020.

So we’re looking at each of the NFL divisions and diving into how they fit into the new NFL landscape and how they’ve spent the offseason prepping for a run at the Lombardi trophy this season.

Let’s dive right in and talk about the NFC West.

The Arizona Cardinals – 5-10-1 in 2019

Look, the NFC West is possibly the toughest division in football, and the Cardinals had a rough go of it last season. Kyler Murray did alright in his first campaign, and will look to make great strides this season. Any season that starts with a tie, is going to be a weird one, but all signs point to The Cardinals growing from their star QB and new Head Coaches rookie outings.

The biggest reason for optimism surround the Cards though has to come from one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason in De’Andre Hopkins. It’s not every year you add one of the best players in the NFL to your squad, and Arizona managed to do just that. Oh, and they still have Larry Fitzgerald, who can now move into an auxiliary role better suited to his aging legs. This offense is going to be potent.

The defense is still cause for concern, as they gave up more yards than any other team last season. They won’t be able to outscore everyone, which seems to be their plan of attack this season. The other big question mark is how their O-line will fare this season, but all signs seem to be pointing in the right direction for somewhere around an 8-8 season.

The Los Angeles Rams – 9-7 in 2019

Did I do this? Did my purchase of a Todd Gurley jersey during the 2018 playoffs doom this franchise? It’s kinda hard to believe where we are just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl Appearance.

Todd Gurley? Gone. Brandin Cooks? Gone. Clay Matthews? Gone. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Rookie Cam Akers should thrive in the West Coast offense LA runs, and new WR Van Jefferson has a clear path to playing time with Cooks gone. Don’t forget they still have Tyler Higbee, fantasy hero Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods as targets for Jared Goff to sling the ball to. And Jared Goff is really going to be the key to how far the Rams go. Will 2018 Goff reemerge or was last year’s up and down season a sign of things to come?

On the other side of the ball, the Rams still have the best player in all of football (@me Mahomes fans) in Aaron Donald, who not only got his wish of having Michael Brockers re-signed, but adds A’Shawn Robinson to play next to him. Even with a weakness at linebacker, the strength of that front line, with Jalen Ramsey patrolling the secondary, makes for a very formidable Rams defense. But will it be enough in a stacked NFC West? Likely not, as I see another 8-8 type season for the Rams as well.

Oh, and the new jerseys are TRASH.

The Seattle Seahawks – 11-5 in 2019

You cannot discount the Seattle Seahawks as long as Russell Wilson is healthy and Pete Carroll is calling the plays. You just can’t. Everything else about this team is secondary.

Speaking of secondary, opposing secondaries might be in trouble. Not only are the Seahawks returning DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but they are adding Greg Olson, Phillip Dorsett, and Josh Gordon. Oh, and they added Carols Hyde to their RB team. The Legion of Boom days might be done, and Jadeveon Clowney may be a Titan now, but those offensive weapons are likely good for half of the Seahawks 10 wins on their own. Just don’t expect any actual activism out of this team.

The San Francisco 49ers – 13-3 in 2019

After a Super Bowl appearance last year, the Niners seem poised to repeat as NFC West Division Champs. A small step back would not be a surprise to anyone, after improving by 9 games last year, but this is the one of the most complete rosters in football from top to bottom.

The biggest question mark will be who Jimmy G will throw the ball to, with Marquis Goodwin and Emmanual Sanders leaving this offseason. But George Kittle is still on the roster, and that should scare any defense. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk will look to make an immediate impact, and if Deebo Samuel can overcome some injuries, San Franscico shouldn’t have trouble putting up enough points to win.

This is made all the easier by the Nick Bosa led defense, which has to be considered one of the best in the league. Look for them to still shut down opposing teams run games.

Division Winner:

This will be a tough division. It would not be entirely surprising to see multiple Wild Card spots come out of the West, though that is unlikely. I still expect San Fransisco to win this division and Seattle to claim a Wild Card spot however.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm is a professional Sound Engineer/Designer, and amateur photographer, writer, musician who recently relocated from California to Rochester, NY. Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit has made Andrew an avid fan of all things Detroit but nothing more so than his beloved Detroit Tigers. Every year he tells himself he won't drink the Lions Kool-Aid, and every year winds up heartbroken come January. A Spartan by heart, and a Golden Grizzly by degree, you can catch his (almost) weekly Hot Takes every Hump Day here at The Turf.

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