We get to the final division as training camp is now underway. The NFC West has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Seattle used to be in the AFC, both Arizona and Los Angeles used to call St Louis home and San Francisco used to be the dynasty of the West. Now you have two teams fighting for the top and two trying to get out of the cellar. Let's take a look at the rankings. I'm taking into account where the teams ended last season, their off-season moves, draft picks and coaching changes, as well as the competition they are going to be playing.
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks continue to be the team to beat. Pete Carroll is still considered a genius with getting the most out of players and Russell Wilson is a very good quarterback. But Wilson isn't top five, the once bruising defense has lost a few key players and talk of Carroll calling it a career is floating around again. The problem is that the built with late round finds and other teams castoffs, but now we're a few years down the line and those guys are getting paid. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas count as $10 million towards the cap each in 2018. That's roughly 1/8th of your salary going to 2 of 50 players and it's not your quarterback. And Kam Chancellor is going to be a free agent. It is hard to see how they will be able to keep the Legion of Boom together for much longer.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals have the best chance to push the Seahawks out of the top spot, but they're a bit of a house of cards. Everything relies on 38-year-old Carson Palmer throwing to 33-year-old Larry Fitzgerald. There is no decent back up strategy. No up-and-coming quarterback or wideout. Palmer has never been the most durable player and if he goes down, the team goes with him. There is also the health of head coach Bruce Arians to worry about. At 64, there has been speculation that the coach may have to walk away from the game. The players of Arians and will push themselves for him. Which means that the perfect storm could happen and the team could sail into the playoffs. But they need to seriously start thinking about the future and find some new playmakers to bring up before the cupboard is bare.
Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are back to square one with a new head coach in Sean McVay and a second year quarterback in Jared Goff. There were a lot of high hopes for Goff and he could turn out to be the franchise player the teamed hoped for when he was drafted in the first round last year. But he had a horrible rookie season which lead to Jeff Fisher losing his job. McVay is considered an offensive guru, so the Rams are trying to give Goff the best chance to succeed. That said, the Rams have one of the best defensive lines in the game and enough young weapons around Goff that if the quarterback gets it together, the team could surprise a lot of people. I'd expect to see a lot of Todd Gurley as the new season begins. Running the ball early and often plus high percentage passes is the best chance to get Goff on track.
San Francisco 49ers – A rookie general manger in John Lynch hires a rookie head coach in Kyle Shanahan and they hold out hoping the Redskins would release Kirk Cousins, which they didn't, and are now going into training camp with Matt Barkley, Bryan Hoyer and rooked C.J. Beathard fighting to be the starter. Hoyer couldn't keep the job in Cleveland, Barkley could catch on in Chicago… both teams still looking for their franchise quarterbacks… Beathard is considered a long shot to pass the other two. Shanahan is considered an offensive genius and is responsible for the offense Cousins ran in Washington. But even if he is able to make one of them a decent starter, there are so many holes on both sides of the ball that it may not matter. Even the best captain can't sail a sinking ship.