2024 Division Preview: NFC West

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NFC East (and Introduction)

NFC North

NFC South

1. San Francisco 49ers

 

The NFC West is a frustrating division to project this year. I feel like I’m making some bold picks, but they’re not quite bold enough to actually show up in the predictions. While I’m probably in line with most people picking the 49ers to win the division, I think it’s very possible that they miss the playoffs and Arizona wins the division instead.

I feel like a broken record on this point, but when I watched every 49ers game it was indeed very noticeable how much their defense improved when they added Chase Young. Leonard Floyd isn’t a steep decline from Young, but it adds up when you also lose Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Kinlaw, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Randy Gregory. By themselves none of those guys are particularly dominant, but I don’t think Young was driving their elite defense by himself either. Instead Young was an improvement that lifted all boats on the defense.

In the same way, these smaller losses are death by a thousand cuts. Their defense was mediocre before adding Young last year, and I expect it to be mediocre this year without him and his friends.

On another note, what did the 49ers do to the schedule makers? They had a horrible -20 rest disadvantage last year, and this year it somehow got even worse. They were obviously fine, but this could be another small scratch against them that drops them out of the playoffs.

All of that being said, I think on average they’re still a pretty good team (if not a Super Bowl contender like last year), and I don’t have enough faith in anybody else to officially pick somebody over San Francisco.

2. Los Angeles Rams

 

The big news in LA is Aaron Donald’s retirement. It should go without saying that a 3rd round rookie is unlikely to match his production.

Other than that they’re pretty much the same as last year. I don’t see any particular reason for them to suddenly improve (other than their rest disadvantage shrinking dramatically from last year), but while Donald is a big loss they did make some improvements down the roster so it’ll be mitigated somewhat.

3. Arizona Cardinals

 

 

 

You can see why I’m excited for the Cardinals. And even this underrates them, as having a fully season of a fully healthy Kyler Murray is going to be an improvement over 8 games of a Murray fresh from an injury and Dobbs and Tune in the other 9 games.

The only reason I’m hesitant to put them higher is that, while they have a lot of green, most of that is from rookies. That gives them a very large variance in results. If those draft picks hit, they could be a very dangerous team. If they don’t, they could be picking in the top 10 yet again.

4. Seattle Seahawks

 

There’s a lot of negative signs for the Seahawks. They may have had a winning record last year, but point differential tells the story of a team that was worse than it’s record. They lost some talent, and also are seeing an increase in how much extra rest their opponents have over them.

But the biggest loss was their head coach. I used to be a Pete Carroll hater, but the whole Russell Wilson thing convinced me he was actually one of the top coaches in the NFL. He made Wilson and now Geno Smith look better than they really were, and without him the Seahawks are going to go into a tailspin.

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upamtn
06/05/2024 2:20 pm

I’ll believe Arizona crawls outta the NFC West basement if & when it happens

Super Bowl 59: Chiefs v Niners

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