FPC NFL Predicts NFC and AFC West

0
365
Nov 19, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams defeated the Chiefs 54-51 in the highest scoring Monday Night Football game ever. NFL Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams defeated the Chiefs 54-51 in the highest scoring Monday Night Football game ever. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We are just one week away from NFL opening day, with one meaningless preseason week standing between us and NFL action. In the meantime, Full Press NFL concludes its series predicting the outcomes of each division. Today, Cardinals editor Ryan Adverderada and Vikings editor Sam Smith preview the NFC and AFC West.

AFC and NFC North

AFC and NFC South

AFC and NFC East

NFC West

Ryan Adverderada

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Seattle Seahawks
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Arizona Cardinals
The NFC West is a tough division. Each team claims to have their franchise quarterback. Pete Carroll is the old man of the group, but he’s shown the ability to recreate his Seahawks. The Rams remain the class of the division. They have a potent offense and a talented defense. Los Angeles focused on upgrading the interior of the offensive line, but questions remain regarding the health of running back Todd Gurley. 
 
San Francisco is a wild card. On paper, the team should contend for a playoff spot. The offensive scheme works, but consistency is the word of the day. If the defense can show up, watch out, this team can go places. The Cardinals have an exciting pairing of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray. The offense is tailor-made for Murray. Questionable offensive and defensive line play have the potential to doom the Cardinals in 2019. 

Sam Smith

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Seattle Seahawks
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Arizona Cardinals

The Rams to me seem primed to take a bit of a step back, in the sense that I do not see them making the Super Bowl again. That said, because the rest of the division is sketchy at best, they are still overwhelming favorites. They have the best offense, the best coach, the best weapons, a good young quarterback and the best football player on planet Earth at their disposal. Barring injuries, I do not see any other team overtaking them. 

I see one team that could make the leap, however, in San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan is a proven Super Bowl-caliber play-caller who is finally getting some strong talent to work with on offense. George Kittle, Dante Pettis, Marquis Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, Matt Breida, there is a lot to like about the weapons for the 49ers. However, much will come down to Jimmy Garoppolo. Confidence in him as a franchise quarterback stems exclusively from a limited seven-game run from 2016 to 2017. Beyond that, his career has been shaky play and injuries. If he is the answer, San Francisco could be a playoff team. Otherwise, they are back to the drawing board and John Lynch is looking for a new job. 

Seattle will always be competitive as long as they have Russell Wilson. I do not see them as a playoff team this year, but then again I did not see it last year either. That said, to me, they are a .500 team in a loaded conference. As for Arizona, I think Kyler Murray is a star in the making, but that stardom is going to take another year or two. Arizona brought in weapons that have underachieved in preseason, and an offensive line that has performed as expected, leaving Murray on the run much of the time. It does not bode well for Arizona that they drafted a bunch of receivers to help Murray, and the only one who has excelled thus far is the sixth-rounder, KeeSean Johnson. I see them finishing with a top-five pick again, even if the future looks a bit brighter. 

Latest From FPC on SportsCastr

AFC West

Ryan Adverderada

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Denver Broncos
Kansas City should remain at the top of the division. Andy Reid’s bunch has the most explosive offense in the NFL. Even a slight regression from Patrick Mahomes should result in another MVP-caliber season for the quarterback. Defensively, if the secondary can gel, it would erase the biggest liability on the team. The Chargers are without safety Derwin James, for the entirety of 2019. His absence alone will limit what the defense can do. If the offense can function without Melvin Gordon, the Chargers will have a chance. The Joey Bosa led front seven will need to put in a major effort. 
 
The Raiders are entering their final season in Oakland. As construction on their Las Vegas home nears completion, the arrow points up for the Silver and Black. Oakland looks to have found a few solid contributors in the draft and added Antonio Brown during the offseason. If Brown can figure out his helmet concerns, the offense should be significantly improved in 2019. Meanwhile, the Broncos are once again searching for their franchise quarterback. Denver brought in Joe Flacco to take over the offense and drafted quarterback Drew Lock in April’s draft. New head coach Vic Fangio takes over a talented defense but must find stability on offense. The hiring of offensive coordinator Rick Scangarello could prove to be a fantastic addition by season’s end. 

Sam Smith

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Denver Broncos

The Chiefs are among the class of the NFL. Once Tyreek Hill was fully reinstated, the question of that pretty much ended. They are bringing back the same offense they had for the playoffs, only with a (theoretically) improved interior line. They replaced Dee Ford with Frank Clark and added Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary. Granted, they still have weaknesses in the secondary and at linebacker, but their pass rush and juggernaut offense should more than make up for those weaknesses. 

Before Derwin James’ injury, I thought that two teams in this division posed the best threat to the Patriots’ AFC throne. However, with some added questions in the secondary, I see that as reduced to one. Do not be mistaken; the Chargers are still a playoff team and one of the better overall units in the conference. However, there are holes that they may not be able to mask as well as they did a season ago. They still have glaring weaknesses up the middle on both sides of the ball, mixed with a disgruntled running back and a somewhat less impressive defensive backfield. Despite the fact that their passing offense should be great and they have an elite combination at defensive end, I think the Chargers are a 10-win team and a considerable step behind the Chiefs.

The final two teams are about even in my eyes. Denver should probably hand the keys over to Drew Lock sooner or later, since Joe Flacco hardly inspires playoff team confidence at this point in his career. Still, Denver’s defense, headlined by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, makes them an intriguing team, even if the offense does not look great on paper. Oakland, on the other hand, has all the offensive potential, assuming Antonio Brown can help get Derek Carr back to the elite level he briefly reached. For all the questions all over the field, the Raiders could be looking at an exciting offense in 2019. 

– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals. Like and follow on and Facebook.

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.

 Follow @fpc_vikings and Follow @fpc_nfl

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.