May. 22, 2020
Projected NFL Standings: NFC WEST EDITION
In my eyes, the NFC West will be the strongest division in the NFL this season. There are no weak links. It's a given that the 49ers and the Seahawks will remain atop the NFC, but even with a tough offseason the Rams still have some firepower. On top of all that, the NFC West is home to one of my breakout teams of the year. After a great offseason, the Cardinals are ready to take the next step. The NFC West will be the most entertaining in the NFL.
San Franciso 49ers: (13-3)
Even with the added competition, I still expect the 49ers to come away with the division. I'm a big fan of Kyle Shanahan, and I think he'll have another strong year of leading the 49ers offense. Yes, Jimmy G has some limitations but he's still a solid quarterback. The offense doesn't have any major holes. The trade for Trent Williams will replace retired left tackle Joe Staley. Going into the draft the 49ers needed to add another receiver after losing Emmanuel Sanders to the Saints. The 49ers drafted wideout Brandon Aiyuk in the first round to fill the void. The 49ers should look to add another veteran wide receiver if one comes available, but overall the offense should have another great year.
Last season the 49ers had the pass rush in the NFL. This season, the pass rush should be just as dominant. The 49ers did lose defensive tackle DeForest Buckner but they added Javon Kinlaw in the first round. Kinlaw isn't the same player as Buckner yet, but he's got high upside. There just aren't a lot of major questions on the 49ers. I expect another double-digit win season. The postseason success will depend on the success of Jimmy G.
Seattle Seahawks: (11-5)
A great quarterback is half the battle in the NFL. The Seahawks have had so many holes the past few seasons, but Russell Wilson always seems to lead the team to double-digit wins. I expect the same this season. The Seahawks need the new additions on the offensive line to give Wilson a little more help. B.J. Finney is one of the new faces on the offensive line, he should be able to help at the center position. The Seahawks also drafted LSU guard, Damien Lewis, in the third round. While the offensive line needs improvement, the rest of the weapons around Wilson are ready to go. The running back position looks good with Chris Carson and the new signing, Carlos Hyde. The wide receiver room is filled with talent. The tight ends are just ok. Even though Greg Olsen is getting older, I still expect him to be good in limited action.
The defense will hold the Seahawks back again this year. A big key to their performance will be the availability of Quinton Dunbar. If Dunbar is suspended the Seahawks are thin at corner. The Seahawks could also use some help with the pass rush. Bruce Irvin was brought in, but I don't think that's enough to be a top pass rush. The offense will be in the top ten in the NFL again, but the defense will have its struggles.
The Cardinals are my surprise team of the 2020 NFL season. If the offensive line doesn't step up their game my pick might come crashing to the ground, but I did like selecting tackle Josh Jones in the third round. Of course, the big reason I predict a big jump in the Cardinals record is their quarterback Kyler Murray and the weapons around him. I think Murray will take a big second-year jump. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins won't hurt either. Giving Murray a superstar receiver is great for his development. We can't forget the great Larry Fitzgerald when talking about the Cardinals weapons. The Cardinals also managed to retain Kenyan Drake who showed promise last season. I do expect the Cardinals to improve upfront, allowing the weapons to really shine.
The Cardinals got a steal when Isaiah Simmons fell to them at number eight overall. He should be able to step in as a starter right away and play all over the field. The secondary definitely needed the help. The cornerback position will still have some issues. Behind Patrick Peterson at corner, there's a lot of question marks. Byron Murphy and Robert Alford will need to step up this year. A struggling secondary can be helped by a good pass rush. Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard will both provide the pass rush the Cardinals need. It won't be perfect, and I don't think the Cardinals will have an elite defense by any stretch of the imagination, but it should be improved enough to not hold the offense back.
Los Angles Rams: (7-9)
A couple years after going to the Super Bowl, the Rams will finish last in the division this season. I don't think the Rams are a bad team, but in a strong division, someone has to be last. The Rams have good weapons, but I'm still not completely sold on Jared Goff. He seems to be a product of a great system with great weapons. He's by no means a bad quarterback, but I question his ability to carry a team. Another problem for the Rams is their offensive line. Andrew Whitworth is the team's best linemen at the age of 38. I still expect the Rams to score points because of the weapons they have at wide receiver and tight end, but the offensive line will hold them back from being dominant.
On defense, the defensive front will be solid. Aaron Donald is a one-man wrecking crew upfront. Plus, the Rams added Leonard Floyd this offseason to add some pass-rushing off the edge. If rookie edge rusher Terrell Lewis can stay healthy I like his chances of contributing on the defensive line. The linebacker and safety positions are the ones that worry me. The Rams lost Corey Littleton at linebacker and they lost corner Nickel Robey-Coleman. Both players made big contributions to the defense. There aren't suitable replacements on the roster for either player.
Let me know your standings in the NFC West.