We’re so close I can taste it – my team exists in this division, but won’t be doing too well this go-around. Let’s take a look:
I love my Rainy City boys, but they aren’t going to win this division. Maybe it’s just my nature, but at the hint of trouble – the downswing in sports that happens to every franchise, I have no faith. Despite having a quarterback on the fringe of elite status, the entire offensive line is virtually departed or retired. Russell Wilson has a lot riding on this season, as it could be the beginning of a handful of seasons where they reside at the bottom of the standings. Can he outlast that, will Seattle get better quick? The best answer to that question, in immediate fashion, is Chris Carson. The fifth-round pick from the 2018 draft was expected to be a filler at training camp while Rashaad Penny would be the future for the team, a next Marshawn Lynch. Doug Baldwin is still around, and will keep Russell honest, but they can’t do everything themselves. Without a revitalized o-line or defense, will they survive?
San Francisco 49ers
While I was right that I wouldn’t make it for the true beginning of the season, I don’t think a week one loss to Minnesota will prove to tell us the whole story of Jimmy Garoppolo and the 2018 season. Marquise Goodwin missed some time in the game with a quad injury, but came back later in the game. He and Pierre Garcon should be able to handle the grind of the rest of the season (Minnesota is merely tough). Alfred Morris lucked into a back starter position after Jerick McKinnon’s season-ending ACL tear, but Matt Breida is solid as well. I wouldn’t worry about this first look at the team, they should handle the division ably all year and make it trouble for the Rams.
Los Angeles Rams
The frontrunner in this part of the league, Jared Goff is truly coming into his own. They paid everyone this off season, from Aaron Donald to Aqib Talib to Brandin Cooks to Todd Gurley. The defense is top-notch, perhaps the best in the league. The offense is emerging at the right time, with the quarterback due for the most blossoming. If they can handle their division games, the schedule shouldn’t be hard. Gurley is one of the most effective runners, while the receiver corps is full, with Michael Thomas and Robert Woods backing up Cooks. I like all these people, I’d be fine with them dominating.
Sam Bradford, that journeyman visitor, has his work cut out for himself in Arizona. There’s little to no pressure for him to play well, yet his job is in danger with rookie Josh Rosen breathing down his neck. The weapons in front of him are incredible, yet aging and oft-injured. Larry Fitzgerald has always been spectacular, but a final season often can be hampered by the push for final glory. David Johnson is coming off his lost season to a fractured wrist, and his back-up is someone named Chase Edmonds. The one forward I am intrigued by is Ricky Seals-Jones, who could be a sneaky target for Bradford. If they don’t connect, will this season be worth it?
Predictions: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle
One last time, we’ll try to fit in the AFC West before dinner. Fingers crossed?