The San Francisco 49ers can’t afford to be under a Super Bowl cloud if they want to finish as top dogs in the ultra-competitive NFC West again this season.
Kyle Shanahan’s side looked to have one hand on the Vince Lombardi trophy in February, only for the Kansas City Chiefs to crush their dreams and how they react to that loss could go a long way to deciding the fate of the division.
With all of their division rivals expected to be competitive this year, getting back to the Super Bowl won’t be easy for the Niners.
NFC West Preview – San Fran to Grind Down Rivals
The 49ers topped the NFC West with a 13-3 record last season, and Shanahan will be confident the has all the necessary tools to put together another playoff run, even without DeForest Buckner, a key piece on defense who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Niners added Arik Armstead, Travis Benjamin, Ben Garland and Jimmie Ward during the off-season, but their biggest acquisition was offensive tackle Trent Williams from Washington.
In this year’s draft they snapped up Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk in the first round and their squad looks settled ahead of the new campaign.
With running-back Raheem Mostert – the star of their run to the Super Bowl – signed up to a new deal, San Fran will once again look to dominate with their ground game and could be tough to stop.
Seahawks Ready to Bounce Back
Pete Carroll guided his team to the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season, only to see them come up short as they were beaten 28-23 by Green Bay Packers.
The Seahawks will be looking to make the playoffs for the third consecutive campaign this year, and there is every reason for their team to be excited.
Linebacker Jordyn Brooks was a surprise choice in the first round of this year’s draft for Seattle, but general manager John Schneider certainly wasn’t messing around in free agency.
They gave up a lot to land Safety Jamal Adams in a trade with the New York Jets, with 11 free agents joining in total for a team that appears to be in ‘win now’ mode.
Seattle have kept their squad intact, and after an 11-5 season last time out, they will be ones to watch this time around, with Carroll’s side
12/5 to win the NFC West.
Rams Set Their Sights on the Playoffs
Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams had something of a comedown year after their Super Bowl loss but rallied late on to finish 9-7, just missing out on the playoffs.
Running back Todd Gurley couldn’t repeat the magic of 2018/19 and has since moved to Atlanta but there are still plenty of weapons for quarterback Jared Goff to call upon.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey made the Pro Bowl, and both will try and spearhead the defense again this season.
With the salary cap proving prohibitive, the Rams could only sign five players during the off-season, while they also had no first round pick due to the Ramsey trade.
However, McVay clearly believes his team has what it takes and as one of the brightest minds in football, it would be no surprise to see him have the Rams in contention again.
The Rams are
6/1 to win the NFC West this season, which would be a fitting way to christen their stunning new home, SoFi Stadium.
Cardinals the Division’s Dark Horse
The Arizona Cardinals show signs of life under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury last year as they battle to 5-10-1 record.
The addition of Kyler Murray at quarterback with the No.1 pick in the 2019 draft immediately improved the Cards and they were busy in free agency in the hope of moving up a gear.
They caused the biggest splash in free agency when they somehow convinced the Houston Texans to trade star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, while old faithful Larry Fitzgerald is back for another year and the offense should be fun to watch.
Exciting linebacker Isaiah Simmons was their selection in the draft and should improve the defense, one of three additions made to the linebacking core.
With the NFC West such a tough division, any kind of winning season would represent success and another step forward in the gradual rebuild for Arizona.
*All odds correct at time of writing