Considering the offseason that the Los Angeles Rams had, they’re going to be the favorites not just to win the NFC West, but to possibly make the Super Bowl. Hate them all you want, but you can’t deny the quality of talent they have on the roster right now.
It’s therefore not surprising that all four NFC West beat reporters for ESPN.com picked the Rams to repeat their feat from 2017. Since the NFL’s realignment in 2002, only the Rams have failed to top the NFC West in consecutive seasons, and the Seattle Seahawks will certainly try their hardest to prevent that from happening. However, none of the beat reporters picked Seattle to make the playoffs, not even Brady Henderson.
The Rams will win the division and will be the only NFC West team to make the playoffs. While free agency can sometimes be fool’s gold, there’s no doubt that the Rams have the most talented roster in the division after adding the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks to a team that won 11 games last year. The 49ers are a team on the rise with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, and the Seahawks shouldn’t be as bad as all of their big-name subtractions this offseason suggest they could be. The Seahawks could conceivably top last year’s 9-7 record if everything falls into place. But the NFC North and South still seem more likely to produce two playoff teams apiece.
Arizona Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss took things a step further and said that the San Francisco 49ers will get a wild card spot, logically leaving the Seahawks to finish either 3rd or in the cellar.
It’s tough to argue against the Rams. They went 11-5 last season while leading the NFL in points scored. They barely touched their offense, swapping Sammy Watkins for Brandin Cooks in free agency, and bolstered their defense with significant signings, making an already good unit even better. If the Rams can stay healthy, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will lead them to another West title and back to the playoffs, where they’ll be joined by the 49ers. They were 1-10 before Jimmy Garoppolo got his first start last year and then finished the season 6-10. If they can carry that late-season success over to 2018, they’ll be in prime position to make the playoffs.
49ers reporter Nick Wagoner echoed Henderson’s thoughts about how deep the NFC is, and how that could lead to a team finishing 10-6 and missing the playoffs anyway. Lastly, Rams reporter Lindsey Thiry said the Seahawks are “in rebuild mode” after last season’s failure to reach the postseason, and that “given the strength of the NFC South and North, there’s a strong possibility only one team from the West makes the playoffs.”
For the record, you have to go back to 2008-2009 to find the last time the Seahawks missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, and that led to the hiring of Pete Carroll.