We are drawing closer to the start of the NFL season, as all 32 teams report to training camp this month. There will be so much to anticipate this year, including a new 17 game regular season. Rookies like Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be fun to watch. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face an insane amount of pressure as they try to repeat as champions. Of course, we will all be watching for this year’s breakout star. As we count down the days to the opening kickoff, let’s preview the divisions. Today, we are looking at the NFC West.
This was one of the toughest divisions in football last year and it was a blast to watch. Over the final stretch of the season, it went back and forth between the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals as to who would crack into the playoffs. Seattle ultimately won the division, but they got bounced by the Rams with injured quarterback Jared Goff under center for the last 54 minutes of the game after he replaced injured starter John Wolford.
It was an embarrassing loss for the Seahawks who then heard every rumor on the planet about quarterback Russell Wilson’s future. The Rams looked shaky to begin the season, but if it wasn’t for Goff’s injury, they may have been in the NFC Title game. The Cardinals took a huge step forward with QB Kyler Murray, but they lost their final two games to keep them out of the playoffs. And the 49ers….well, let’s just say they may want to hire a new medical staff.
Favorite to Win in 2021
The San Francisco 49ers, the last place team in 2020, is expected to win the division, according to Vegas odds. They’ll return their big-name players at full health this year and a quarterback battle between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance may improve the play of Jimmy G.
I think the favorite to win must be the Rams, who welcome in veteran quarterback Matt Stafford and still have the best young mind in the game in Sean McVay as their head coach. Of course, the Seahawks have been the dominant squad in the division since the mid-2010s but there is tension there between Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll. And there is no counting out the Cards, who now have J.J. Watt as their defensive leader and A.J. Green to help Murray.
Offensive Player to Watch: Matt Stafford
I have always been a huge Stafford fan and thought the way he handled his time in Detroit has been nothing short of remarkable. Now, he has a real offensive genius to help guide him and the weapons on the field to excel. I have always thought there was a version of Stafford we haven’t seen yet, and this could be the year he explodes.
Defensive Player to Watch: Nick Bosa
Aaron Donald is too much of an obvious choice here, so I am going with Nick Bosa. The 2019 Rookie of the Year suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season. I am anxious to see how he rebounds. He is critical to the 49ers defense, and they will need the dominant version of him to win the division.
Prediction: Rams (12-5)
I am not going with the Vegas pick here as I am fully behind this new-look Los Angeles Rams team. I think Stafford will do things that Goff couldn’t and that will be the difference in who wins the division.