This division has been one of the best in the NFL over the past decade, producing 10 NFC Conference Champions this decade alone. Long gone are the days of Kurt Warner, the Legion of Boom and Colin Kaepernick. Born anew are the Kyle Shanahaniners, Geno Smith legacy seasons, the first round pick-less Rams and the retirement home Cardinals.
This division has a chance to yet again produce a Conference Champion…
San Francisco 49ers
Mohamed: 1st: The 49ers arguably have the best roster in the NFL. After having a 13-4 record in the regular season and making another trip to the NFC Championship, I believe the 49ers will have another excellent season. Despite having a tremendous roster, the focus on the 49ers from the NFL world has recently been surrounding their quarterback situation. They will go into the season with Brock Purdy as the starter which isn’t surprising considering his solid play last season. Purdy went 8-1 as the starter with the only loss coming against the Eagles in the NFC Championship, where he sustained a shoulder injury early in the game. The bombshell that was dropped by the 49ers last week was when they named Sam Darnold the backup which led to Trey Lance being traded to the Cowboys for a fourth-round pick. Amongst all the chaos, I believe Purdy showed enough last year for the 49ers offense to be really good again this year. He has an all-star team of weapons and mastermind calling the plays for him, all he needs to do is be a classic point guard and let his guys make plays. If for some reason the offense isn’t clicking, they have a dominant defense that can hold it down for them. In the 2022 regular season, the 49ers defense held their opponents to the fewest points in the entire league and the second lowest rush yards allowed per game with their opponents averaging 77.71 yards per game.
Hayden: This is the team that will make the Super Bowl from this conference. Trey Lance’s reign of terror is over, they have the greatest artillery of weapons this league has to offer, and they are coached by a future first ballot hall of famer. The 49ers have realistically two teams standing in their way. The Eagles, half of the Cowboys and half of the Vikings. I give them a 50/50 shot at making the Super Bowl.
2nd: After trading former franchise quarterback Russell Wilson last offseason, the Seahawks shocked the NFL world by having a 9-8 regular season record and making it to the playoffs. Geno Smith was arguably more of a shock as he had a fantastic season by throwing for 30 touchdowns and having 11 interceptions. He went on to win Comeback Player of the Year. They had an excellent draft last season by hitting on guys like Charles Cross, Kenneth Walker, Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. I expect those guys to keep getting better as they head into their second season. They brought back the heart and soul of their defense for years in Bobby Wagner. He may be old, but he is still a productive player and will bring leadership to a young locker room. On offense, Smith has a fantastic receiving core with guys like DK Metcalf, rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Tyler Lockett and Noah Fant. With Pete Carroll at the helm, the Seahawks will be well-coached on both sides of the ball.
Hayden: While I think Geno will take a step back individually this season, the Seahawks still have such an amazing young core around him that I don’t think it matters. Statistically speaking, the Seahawks are the most likely team from last year’s crop of NFC teams to not make it back. The playoffs will not be a repeat of last year, and I think the Seahawks fall out of playoff contention this year, I’m sorry.
Los Angeles Rams
3rd: The Rams had by far their worst season under Sean McVay. They had a 5-12 record and had a ton of injuries with key guys like Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford being amongst them. Last off-season they lost important players that helped them win the Super Bowl like Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller. They signed Allen Robinson to try to strengthen the wide receiver room after Beckham’s departure, but he turned out to be a disaster. This all led to the horrid season that they had. Heading into this season, I don’t see a reason the Rams will make drastic improvements. It is a top heavy team with not much depth and they didn’t have a lot of money to improve the team in free agency. They didn’t have many draft picks either as they went all out to win the Super Bowl. A huge positive for them is that McVay has come back after a lot of speculation that he may retire the last two off-seasons. I believe they will be better and win a few more games than they did last year by just getting Stafford and Kupp back.
Hayden: Well. This is what happens when you mortgage your future for a moment of glory. I am sure that all 7 Rams fans would not take back their Super Bowl win, but the second half of last year is a sign of things to come this year. Matthew Stafford is going to be eaten alive, Cooper Kupp is limping into the season and Aaron Donald needs to get out. It is a sad time to be a Rams fan. I really just hope they keep their pick this year.
4th: I’m just so underwhelmed by this team. Even bad teams at times have interesting aspects about them. I don’t believe they have any. They have a new coach in Jonathan Gannon who was the defensive coordinator for the excellent Eagles’ defense last year, but the problem is that the Cardinals have very little talent on that side of the ball and I don’t think he’ll work miracles with them. The only thing that would have made them remotely interesting for me this year, Kyler Murray, will likely miss the first half of the season at a minimum. They are my favorites to get the number one pick in next year’s draft and then they will be worth my time when the talk is about whether they should trade the pick or Murray.
Hayden: I have no words. The Cardinals will be the most awful team of all time. Even the ‘08 Lions and the ‘17 Browns would have mercy on this team. Seriously. Tell me ten players on this team. I wonder if they have heard of Caleb Williams, he’s pretty good.
This division could realistically have the Super Bowl Champions and the winners of the #1 pick. The most talent in the NFL and the worst roster in the NFL. When the Cardinals and 49ers play each other, please don’t watch, just check the box score. Skol.
Header Photo: This season, there will be a lot of teams looking to make a push in the NFC, but all of them will have to run through the 49ers. They are primed to make a run at the Super Bowl yet again. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/The Associated Press)