Have you ever had one of those days where you just wanted it to be over so you could start fresh the next day? Well, thats pretty much how the NFC West feels after Week 1. It was saved a little bit by the crazy Monday night win by the Seahawks, but the other 3 teams all lost and they were all by multiple scores! Yes, I know it’s only 1 week and there is a long ways to go. Below is a recap on each team while I try to predict how this division will shake out this season.
Los Angeles Rams
It was not pretty for the defending champion Rams on Thursday night. They played a team that could very well be holding up that Lombardi trophy at the end of the year. The Rams came out flat as if they had already won a Super Bowl or something. The Bills looked hungrier, more determined, and overall were just a better team that day. This doesn’t mean the Rams have no issues and will be going back to dominating the NFC like last season though.
The concerns I have for the Rams is their offensive line. They struggled to protect Matthew Stafford and the biggest issue was that they couldn’t block for him even though the Bills never actually blitzed! It’s pretty amazing how well the Bills dominated the offensive line for the Rams. Some of that could be the loss of veteran leader Andrew Whitworth from last season, or maybe it was just one bad game. Everyone knows that your offense is usually only as good as your offensive line in this league, especially when you don’t have a mobile QB like the Rams.
Another cause for concern is the fact that they need to learn how to use all of their weapons. Allen Robinson was barely targeted on Thursday as Stafford just kept staring down and throwing to Cooper Kupp all game. To go along with that, Cam Akers appears to be in McVay’s dog house. After the game, McVay said that his running back needs to “maximize his opportunities when he gets them.” He went on to say more, but it looks like this is Darrell Henderson’s backfield for now. The Rams will need Robinson and Akers to both have good years if they want to compete for another championship.
The Rams will get this turned around and that starts this weekend vs the Atlanta Falcons at home. I still predict the Rams will win the NFC West and make the playoffs, but they may take a while to get off the mat after their Super Bowl run last season. It all starts with the offensive line and I don’t think they are as bad as they showed on Thursday Night.
San Francisco 49ers
Was there a more disappointing team in Week 1 than the 49ers? I had my doubts and reservations about Trey Lance heading into the season considering he was getting hyped as the next superstar already. I truly don’t think he is ready to be a starting QB for a winning team yet. This isn’t to say he will never get there, but I just don’t see it happening this season.
The big blow for the 49ers was the loss of Elijah Mitchell, who has been ruled out for about 2 months. It’s unfortunate that the young kid has to endure another injury like this, but the 49ers will need someone to step up in his place. They will be relying on Jeff WIlson and Deebo to handle most of the workload in the backfield. The offense and penalties were big reasons for the stunning 19-10 loss vs the Bears on Sunday. They had 12 penalties for 99 yards to go with the fact that they were only 1 of 3 in the red zone.
Some of the mistakes the 49ers made are fixable. Lance will have to show improvement in the passing game if they want any chance of winning this division though. This is a team that will have to rely on their running game and defense to win games.
This will be an interesting three game stretch as they play the Seahawks, Broncos, and the Rams in the next three weeks. There is a chance this team starts out 1-3 while Lance goes thru his growing pains at QB. My prediction is that they will still find a way to finish 2nd in this division. Since the NFC is also weak as a whole, I still see them getting a wild card spot. Lance has a whole season to improve so the jury is still out on this team. As long as they can consistently run the ball and play defense, they will have a chance to win most of their games.
What a win by the Hawks on Monday Night in a game that felt like it was their Super Bowl! Beating Russell Wilson was on everyone’s mind that night and they got the job done. It wa a little lucky with the horrible day by new coach Nathaniel Hackett, but a win is a win. It will be interesting to see if the Hawks can carry that momentum to Week 2 after a very emotional game.
Geno Smith looked much more comfortable in the pocket than years past. He showed his poise and accuracy while leading the team to 17 1st half points. They stalled out in the 2nd half being held scoreless though. Rookie Charles Cross got beat a couple times by Bradley Chubb, but those are part of the growing pains as a rookie. Overall, the offense was decent with one good half and one bad half. They have the WR’s on the outside with Lockett and Metcalf. The key for them will be to keep getting a consistent running game from Rashad Penny and rookie Kenneth Walker when he returns from injury. If they can do that, it will take some pressure off Geno and the passing game.
The defense played their guts out and got a little lucky. They created some of that luck themselves though by causing 2 fumbles on the 1 yard line. By the way, fumbling twice on the 1 yard line hasn’t been done since 1987! Crazy things happen in Seattle on prime time! The loss of Jamal Adams will hurt their pass rush and leadership, so someone will have to step up. I do think the Seahawks lack strength and talent on the defensive line. They will struggle to get consistent pressure on opposing Quarterbacks. We will have to see if they can play with that same intensity in a much different environment on the road in San Francisco next week.
It was a great win by the Seahawks in Week 1. They may be a little better than some experts believe, but they still have a long ways to go. Unless their defensive line and young CB’s can show improvement, I think it will be a long season. Geno should do fine this year, but they will have games where they need to score a lot of points to win. I’m not sure they can do that. I predict they will miss the playoffs, but may surprise a few teams along the way with how Pete Carroll gets his guys to compete.
This team is in rough shape this season. I thought that before the season and Week 1 only confirmed it. The Chiefs dominated the Cardinals on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs were able to do whatever they wanted on offense as they out yarded the Cardinals 488 to 282 and some of that was just from garbage time for Arizona.
Mahomes threw 5 TD’s as he was determined to beat his old college coach Kingsbury on the other sideline. The Cardinals look like they lack athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. They had no answer for the Chiefs potent offense. Andy Reid coached circles around Kingsbury, which isn’t much of a surprise. Kingsbury isn’t known for being a great in-game coach who makes adjustments.
On the other side, the Cardinals offense couldn’t get anything going. They missed having their weapons on the outside in Hopkins and Rondale Moore. This Cardinals offense doesn’t take a lot of chances on offense. Part of that is due to the fact that they don’t have the talent to be able to do that. Kingsbury’s offense will need to change and adjust as it looks like NFL teams are figuring out ways to defend his scheme.
This team has lost 6 of their last 7 games dating back to last season. The downfall of the Cardinals is happening. They have a QB who comes with some drama and is now taking up a huge part of their salary cap. They have a WR who hasn’t put up the same numbers lately and is suspended the 1st six games of this season , and a bottom tier defense. If you can’t tell, I think there are holes everywhere on this team. My prediction is that they will finish dead last in this division. I know it’s a bold statement, but that’s how I feel about this roster and coach.
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