NFL Predictions 2014-NFC West
by Mark Neal
posted Aug 21 2014 11:36AM
We have been doing our NFL division predictions, one division at a time...here is the NFC West! Your thoughts and comments are welcome!
1. San Francisco 49ers...Ever since Jim Harbaugh arrived, this team has been consistently good. The big turnaround seemed to happen when Colin Kaepernick took over at QB, replacing Alex Smith. Kaepernick has developed, and hopefully for the 49ers, will continue to do so going forward. Despite that, the offense was the weakness a season ago. The 49ers ranked just 24th in total yards in 2013, something that will have to improve. The ground game still has Frank Gore, but also added Ohio State All-American Carlos Hyde...primed for a strong rookie campaign. The receiving core got a boost with the addition of Stevie Johnson. Add him to Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and TE Vernon Davis, and you really have a solid foundation. The defense has to repeat 2013's success, as they ranked 5th in yards allowed. The best LB group in the NFL needs to continue to play as such, if so, a shot at the Super Bowl could be out there for the 49ers.
2. Seattle Seahawks...The defending Super Bowl Champions are in arguably the toughest division in the NFL. Russell Wilson returns to lead an offense that was frankly middle of the road a season ago. We saw the impact Percy Harvin has when he is on the field. If he can stay healthy, he is almost guaranteed to be a factor. Marshawn Lynch has to remain a weapon as well. This offense didn't get much better in the offseason. The defense stole the show for the Seahawks in 2013. The Legion of Boom was a big reason I picked them to win the Super Bowl prior to the season beginning...and ended up being a major reason they have a championship today. Richard Sherman led the NFL in Interceptions a season ago, but new rules have made it tougher on DBs this season. My concern isn't the defense in the Great Northwest, it's that offense. Score points, a wildcard is possible.
3. St. Louis Rams...I really wanted to put the Rams 2nd in this division, but I can't ignore the struggles of QB Sam Bradford. The former Heisman Trophy winner, and #1 overall pick, hasn't lived up to expectations, and has battled injuries like he did at Oklahoma. This offense ranked 30th in the league a year ago in total yards. The offensive line is good, and remember the name Zac Stacy...expect a breakout year for the RB. The defense is where it's at, with a solid front 7 led by DE Robert Quinn. They can get to the QB, which is crucial in the NFL...especially in this division. They are maybe a year away from something, but a huge year from Bradford could make the Rams the surprise team of 2014.
4. Arizona Cardinals...A team capable of 10 wins rarely is ranked last in their division...unless it's this division. Just like seemingly every team in the NFC West, their defense was suburb in 2013, ranking 6th in total yards allowed. They have some nice pass rushers, but they are led by the uber-talented Patrick Peterson. He is now teamed up with Anotnio Cromartie in the secondary forming a rangy, talented tandum of corners. Throw in the gamer that is Tyrann Mathieu, and that is as solid a group of DBs this side of Seattle. The offense still has Larry Fitzgerald, the consummate professional. He is paired with Michael Floyd, forming a big, tough WR duo. Carson Palmer is the QB, and needs a big year. Get more out of the running game, and protect Palmer, maybe the Cardinals create some havoc in the NFL's most brutal division.
Filed Under :
Alex Smith, Anquan Boldin, Carlos Hyde, Carson Palmer, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Jim Harbaugh, Larry Fitzgerald, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman, Robert Quinn, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford, Stevie Johnson, Vernon Davis