2020 NFL Preview: NFC West

Written By: SimpleSlates

June 24, 2020

NFC WEST PREDICTIONS

We have finally made our way to the NFC West to wrap up the 2020 NFL preview. The west is a division rich in history, and as of late, one of the more all around competitive divisions in the NFL. There are a couple teams on the rise in the NFC West, a team on the decline, and a team that is probably once again in rebuild mode. 

Without further delay let’s jump into the Simple Slates predictions for the NFC West going into the 2020 NFL season.

 

#1.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The Niners were a few plays away from Superbowl greatness this past season, but ultimately fell short to the Chiefs. Regardless of where you lay the blame for that loss, on the coaching or on the flaky arm of Jimmy Garappolo, they were close to being champs. To take a look at the silver lining, the team that went to the Superbowl last year was by all accounts in a rebuilding year. That means that they will likely only be getting better.

The Niners offense hasn’t really lost anything. They still maintain a solid game managing quarterback, a stable of running backs all offering their own unique specialized skill set, and an underrated receiving core capable of making great plays underneath. There were two notable losses this off-season. The first was the loss of receiver Emannuel Sanders, and the second was the retirement of tackle Joe Staley. Those losses will definitely hurt, but we don’t believe that either will alter the dominance the Niners have been enjoying. Drafting Brandon Aiyuk, the receiver from Arizona State, should help make up for the loss of Sanders.

The defense returns ten of the eleven 2019 starters. The only player gone from last season is defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. To fill that hole, which would take a large man to fill, San Francisco drafted Javon Kinlaw in the first round. Kinlaw is a mountain of a man at defensive tackle from South Carolina. The defensive line should be just as dominant this season as they were last.

We believe it is the safest bet possible to bank on the Niners repeating as division champions, and they will likely make a deep run in the playoffs as well. This year they can actually be considered a Superbowl contender prior to the season starting.

 

#2.) ARIZONA CARDINALS

The Cardinals are a team on the rise, and they have just gotten better in the offseason. The team is putting together an intense spread attack on offense, and continues to get better on defense. This team is a few years away from being a force in the division. 

The offense is centered around an Air Raid attack under Kliff Kingsbury who brought the offense with him from his days at Texas Tech. Heading that offense is standout quarterback and former first overall pick, Kyler Murray. Around Murray they have a loaded receiving corps. The receivers consist of Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, and now newly acquired for an incredibly low price, DeAndre Hopkins. This offense also makes it easy to hide a subpar offensive line by getting the ball out quick underneath. We should see great things from this unit in 2020.

The defense picked up many solid role players in free agency with linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Devon Kennard as well as Jordan Phillips on the defensive line. If Patrick Peterson can make a return to looking like one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL, this team might have something special going for themselves on the defensive side. They also drafted who could easily be the best quarterback spy and kickoff team gunner in the league in the first round when they picked Simmons from Clemson in the first round. In case you missed it you should read our breakdown on Simmons, we have an opinion in the minority on that player. 

When the dust settles we believe that the Cardinals can squeak out the number two spot in the division, and most likely compete for a wild card playoff spot. They are likely a year or two away from being exceptional, but it will definitely be exciting to watch them get there.

 

#3.) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

The Seahawks, while still a solid team, are not the juggernaut that they were in the “Legion of Boom” era. The Seahawks just don’t excite us at the end of the day. They are a team that has had their run and are probably not going to see another one for several years.

The offense will once again rest on the shoulders of Russell Wilson. Wilson, who many consider one of the best quarterbacks in the league, will also be adding weapons Greg Olsen and Phillip Dorsett to the mix. Wilson needs a solid tight end to be at his best and Olsen does provide him that safety blanket. Metcalf was a solid deep threat last season, but he should be slightly more effective with the addition of Dorsett, who is one of the faster straight line players in the league. The biggest loss for the Seahawks this off-season was losing both of their starting tackles. That’s a big hit to overcome, but the heavy use of play action should help some.

Defensively the Seahawks return much the same, although some of the big names are still up in the air on where they will land. Clowney didn’t draw as much interest in free agency as expected and likely could remain a Seahawk for 2020. One thing is for sure, Seattle makes defense work regardless of who is on the field. They play a style of defense that allows you to beat yourself very effectively.

The Seahawks are still a good team, and will be very competitive. You could possibly switch them into the number two spot and the Cardinals down here at three. That just wouldn’t be as fun, so we decided to play it out the other way.

 

#4.) LOS ANGELES RAMS

The Rams, just two seasons removed from a Superbowl run, are a team once again in the cycle of rebuilding. Many of their draft picks and other moves did not work out as intended. They lost a few more pieces to the puzzle this offseason and should probably start thinking about trying to get on the race for worst to be in Trevor Lawrence consideration. 

On the offensive side of the ball they still have Goff running the show. Most consider Goff to be a wide miss from the top tier player he was supposed to be. There are some games where he shows that level of play, but consistency has been a rough sticking point. The Rams also lost two of the biggest offensive threats they had with Todd Gurley going to the Falcons and Brandon Cooks going to the Texans. This offense will likely be a complete clown show during the 2020 NFL season. 

The only saving grace for the Rams might be that they did fairly well on the defensive side of the ball despite losing Dante Fowler to the Falcons as well. They managed to resign several key pieces to their defense and bring in new talent like A’Shawn Robinson, and Leonard Floyd. Those guys are not setting the world on fire, but when you compare the defense to the offense, it is definitely the Ram’s strength at this point.

We completely expect the Rams to be near the bottom of the league. A fall that fast from playing in a Superbowl just two seasons ago deserves a bit of recognition, it is hard to be that bad, that quickly. Sorry Ram’s fans, this season is likely over already. Thanks for playing.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR NFC WEST EXPECTATIONS?

What do you think is going to happen in the NFC West for the 2020 season? Let us know in the comments below. Do you agree with or dislike our assessment of your team in this division? Again, let us know. 

As always, make sure to follow on Twitter @SimpleSlates and like us on FaceBook @SimpleSlates for more sports posts and DFS content! 

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