Sorry Arizona Cardinals fans, but your defense last year was embarrassing. The defense allowed the most yards per game at 402 and was second-to-last in passing yards per game with 281.9 and touchdown passes with 38.
The good news is the defense should be significantly better this year as the team added a variety of important pieces in the offseason. The Cardinals added three new starters via free agency, selected a game-changing defender, and loaded up on talent in the draft which is why the Cardinals, believe it or not, actually have a chance to win this division.
The team added interior line help with Jordan Phillips from the Bills. Linebacker Devon Kennard from the Lions who should pair nicely with All-Pro Chandler Jones. Then they added De’Vondre Campbell from the Falcons who will most likely backup first-round pick, Isaiah Simmons, from Clemson who can play at least 4 different positions.
Entering the 2020 season head coach Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray have everyone excited about the Cardinals offense. Murray improved during the second half of the season and the team ripped off the Houston Texans when they acquired WR DeAndre Hopkins. Plus they were able to dump David Johnsons’ $13 million dollar contract at the same time. Now that was a brilliant move.
While winning the division seems like a long-shot and most predictions have the Cardinals winning 7 games this year, I believe they are strong enough on both sides of the ball to finish 9-7 which might be good enough in a division that is certain to beat itself up every week.
Los Angeles Rams – 9-7
Seattle Seahawks – 9-7
San Francisco 49ers – 9-7
Arizona Cardinals – 9-7
The MIGHTY Line
This is the first time I’ve ever predicted that every team in a division is going to finish the season with a winning record, but on paper, each team in the NFC West has legit playoff potential.
While I’m not going to go into all the reasons why the 49ers are falling back to the pack this season other than to say you can’t let offensive weapons like Emmanuel Sanders and Matt Breida walk out the door. On the defensive side, the team traded away DeForest Buckner and lost a few other role players. While it wouldn’t surprise me if the 49ers start the season off hot, this team does not have the same depth it had last year and Jim Garoppolo is a nice QB, not a great QB which showed up in the Super Bowl last year when he overthrew a potential game-winning deep TD pass to Sanders late in the 4th quarter.
As for the Seahawks, Pete Carrol is such a good coach that despite the lack of a running game, he will find a way to unleash Russell Wilson on the rest of the NFL. The defense is improving but the team was unable to bring back playmaking end Jadeveon Clowney. This is a significant loss for the Seahawks, but much like Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and his staff do a great job game-planning.
The reality is Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll are at the top of their respective games and together they will find a way to be in the division title hunt even if they lack depth on their roster.
Sean McVay is entering his 4th season as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams and the worst record he posted came last year at 9-7. While I’m not sure who the next Sean McVay is, I can tell you that I think the best team in this division is the Rams which is why I’m picking them to win the division title.
Jared Goff for the first time in his NFL career looks like a veteran QB who the Rams can absolutely rely on. The team made the wise decision to part ways with Todd Gurley who had clearly lost a few steps.
The plan entering the season is to pair rookie RB Cam Akers from Florida State, with second-year Darrell Henderson Jr. The running back by committee is actually a good move for the team that will look to take big shots down the field on a regular basis. From a play-calling perspective, they won’t feel the need to make sure their running back carries the ball 25 times a game.
The wide receiver group is strong with Josh Reynolds, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. The Rams also drafted Van Jefferson from Florida who has the potential to be another Cooper Kup.
Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey are the cornerstones of the Rams defense this year which will add significant depth during the draft. Clearly, the defense will need to perform at an optimal level for the Rams to win the division but Ramsey lurking around in the secondary and Donald causing issues upfront, this is going to be a defense that has the potential to dominate.
The bottom line is while I have the Rams winning the division, every team in this division has legit reasons to believe they can win the NFC West this year.