The last two NFC champions have come out of the NFC West and it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see the division provide the NFC representative to the Super Bowl for the third consecutive season.
There are plenty of talking points in one of the NFL‘s most fascinating divisions, starting with the San Francisco 49ers‘ bid to reach a second consecutive Super Bowl and continuing with the Seattle Seahawks hoping to make it to the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 seasons under Pete Carroll.
Here’s what to expect from the NFC West ahead of the upcoming NFL season.
All odds are courtesy of DraftKings.
San Francisco 49ers
Seven months on since squandering a 10-point lead with eight minutes left in Super Bowl LIV, the 49ers look to dust themselves off and go again. Reaching the big dance in back-to-back seasons is a historically fiendish feat to accomplish, with just 24 of the last 25 Super Bowl runners-up making it to the NFL title game in successive seasons.
Unusually for the second-best team in the league, the 49ers had two first-round draft picks, which they used on wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who will be tasked to replace Emmanuel Sanders and DeForest Buckner, after the former left in free agency and the latter was traded to Indianapolis.
Aiyuk may be one of the few wideouts available in Week 1, with fellow receivers Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Tavon Austin and Richie James either recovering from injury or sidelined for the foreseeable future. Despite the injuries, the NFC West champions are odds on to win the division for the second consecutive season.
- Odds to win the NFC West: 24/25
- Odds to win the Super Bowl: 9/1
As ever, hopes of success in Seattle will largely rest on Russell Wilson’s shoulders. The seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback was one of the standout players in the NFL last season and for all the criticism their offense received, the Seahawks ranked fifth in offensive efficiency last season.
The options at Wilson’s disposal have been bolstered by the arrival of Josh Gordon, who looks to resurrect his career after five drug-related bans and could prove an intriguing addition to a team in need of depth in the position.
On the defensive side of the ball, Seattle made up for losing edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney as free agent by trading for star safety Jamal Adams and adding cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
In 10 years under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been a picture of consistency, with eight trips to the playoffs and two Super Bowl appearances, one of which returned a Vince Lombardi Trophy. There’s nothing to suggest Seattle can’t make it to the big game again.
- Odds to win the NFC West: 11/5
- Odds to win the Super Bowl: 20/1
Los Angeles Rams
A new era begins in Los Angeles as the Rams move into their brand-new, state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium. The franchise may have a new home, but it remains in search of its identity.
A year removed from torching defenses across the NFL en route to Super Bowl LIII, the Rams struggled badly last season and many questioned their wisdom of handing Jared Goff a four-year extension worth $134 million. The 25-year-old quarterback will need to rediscover his 2018 form if the Rams are to return to the playoffs and it will be intriguing to see how head coach Sean McVay will run the offense after cutting star running back Todd Gurley to give his team some much-needed salary cap space.
On the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Donald remains a human wrecking ball and probably the best player in the NFL today, while Jalen Ramsey will have to live up to the tag of highest-paid defensive back in NFL history after signing a five-year extension worth $105 million, which includes $71.2 million of fully guaranteed money.
- Odds to win the NFC West: 11/2
- Odds to win the Super Bowl: 40/1
The Cardinals feel like a team on an upward trajectory after landing All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and signing him to a two-year extension worth $54.5 million, making him the highest-paid non-quarterback player in the NFL.
Hopkins’ arrival significantly bolsters Arizona’s receiving corps and should help second-year quarterback Kyler Murray’s development, after a solid rookie season in which the first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft looked exactly like the dual-threat quarterback the Cardinals hoped he would be.
Now in his second season as head coach, Kliff Kingsbury’s “crazy fast” offense is guaranteed to make the Cardinals an exciting team to watch, but whether that will be enough to secure a first playoff appearance since 2015 remains to be seen.
- Odds to win the NFC West: 7/1
- Odds to win the Super Bowl: 50/1
The post NFL Power Rankings: Where NFC West Teams Stand Ahead of 2020 Season appeared first on Newsweek.