The 2017 Los Angeles Rams came as a surprise going 11-5 and winning the NFC West for the first time since 2003 when they were still in St. Louis. This upcoming season, the Rams will not surprise anyone but should still have no problem racking up victories on their way to another division title.
Based off the number of talented players that the Rams acquired this offseason, it is clear they are trying to bring a Lombardi Trophy to Los Angeles. And with these additions, the Rams have made the gap even larger from them and their NFC West counterparts. The predicated second best team in the division is the San Francisco 49ers made waves late last season, winning five consecutive games to end the season behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
In six games (five starts) Garoppolo looked every bit like a franchise quarterback for the 49ers. He threw for 1,560 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions and completed 67.4 percent of his passes to go along with a 96.2 QB rating. Those numbers are the reason the 49ers gave Garoppolo a five-year, $137 million contract this offseason after only starting in seven career games. The 49ers are certainly a team on the rise, but they do not have the roster ready to compete for the division title just yet.
Before Garoppolo took over, the 49ers were 1-10 and were in contention to pick first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The play of Garoppolo helped boost the team moral and attract offseason free agents, such as Richard Sherman and Jerick McKinnon.
Sherman and McKinnon are both talented additions, but each has something to prove. Sherman, 30, is coming off an Achilles tear he suffered in November with the Seattle Seahawks. McKinnon is now a premiere running back with the 49ers after sharing carries his first four years with the Minnesota Vikings. The 49ers are trending upwards, unlike the other two teams in the NFC West, the Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, who look to be rebuilding.
Along with Sherman, the Seahawks lost another “Legion of Boom” member Kam Chancellor to retirement and are in a contract dispute with Earl Thomas. The Seahawks lost Michael Bennett (traded to the Philadelphia Eagles), Cliff Avril (released) and Jimmy Graham (signed with the Green Bay Packers).
To make matters worst, the Seahawks failed to addresses their biggest need in acquiring better offensive lineman for Russell Wilson. They did not draft an offensive lineman until the fifth-round when they took Jamarco Jones and did not address the need in free agency either. They gave up 43 sacks last season, tied for 10th most in the NFL. It would have been more if not for Wilson’s magician-like efforts to escape pressure. Wilson will keep the Seahawks competitive, but they may have lost too many key players to compete in the division.
The Cardinals are the unknowns in the division. They brought in a new head coach, Steve Wilks, and quarterback, Sam Bradford, after both Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer decided to retire, cut Tyrann Mathieu and David Johnson is returning after a week one wrist injury ended his season last year. Even though Bradford was brought in to be the projected starter, the Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen who may possibly become the starter at some point during the season.
The NFC West is the Rams to lose. They have the most talented roster in the division and may possibly have the best offense, defense and special teams too. If they wish to achieve their Super Bowl dreams, they must first handle their divisional business.