The NFL has added a Wild-Card team to each conference for the playoffs going forward, and had that been in place for last season the NFC West would have been the only division with three teams in the postseason.
It’s definitely the deepest division in the NFC entering 2020 if not the NFL (an argument could be made for the AFC West).
The San Francisco 49ers won their first West title since 2012 a year ago and are the -105 favourites on the NFL odds to repeat – as they should be after reaching Super Bowl LIV. Seattle was a Wild-Card team last year and is +210 to win the West for the first time since 2016. The Los Angeles Rams (+454) were two-time defending West champions entering last year but finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs – they would have been that last NFC team in under the current format.
The Arizona Cardinals (+692) haven’t won the West since 2015 and probably won’t in 2020, but that team is on the rise behind second-year QB Kyler Murray.
2020 NFC West Division Preview
The 49ers (10.5 wins) seemed to have Kansas City on the ropes in last February’s Super Bowl with a 20-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but then Patrick Mahomes started carving up that excellent defence and the Chiefs prevailed 31-20. If there was one glaring issue for the Niners in that game, it was that Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t make the big throws when needed. He was picked off twice in the game and didn’t have a good postseason overall. Is Jimmy G a true franchise quarterback? The 49ers did at least kick the tires on chasing Tom Brady, a Bay area native, this offseason.
San Francisco did lose Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Staley to retirement but more than replaced him by trading for ex-Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams from Washington. If there’s one concern, it’s at receiver after losing Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. Both No. 1 Deebo Samuel and rookie first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk are banged up. So is Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle, who got a huge extension recently.
Seattle (9.0 wins) won at Philadelphia in the Wild-Card Round in January and then lost a close game at Green Bay. Keep in mind that the Seahawks were inches from a division title and a first-round bye, losing a thrilling Week 17 game to the 49ers at the goal line. No question that Seattle has the division’s best quarterback in Russell Wilson, who might finally win an MVP this year. The Seahawks, like the Niners, have some question marks at receiver. However, Seattle made one of the big offseason trades in acquiring Jets All-Pro safety Jamal Adams for draft picks. Now, will the team re-sign Jadeveon Clowney?
The Rams (8.5 wins) were in salary-cap trouble this offseason so they said goodbye to the likes of Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Clay Matthews, among others. QB Jared Goff regressed in 2019. The defence has two of the league’s best at their position in tackle/end Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Don’t be surprised if second-round running back Cam Akers emerges as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate in replacing Gurley. L.A. plays in the spectacular new SoFi Stadium this season, but no fans will be allowed.
Arizona (7.5 wins) might have been the best last-place team in the NFL a year ago and could be again in 2020. Murray, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, is a future superstar. The Cards stole All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with Houston. Running back Kenyan Drake was a revelation following a midseason trade from Miami. The defence is a bit of a question, but landing Clemson linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons at No. 8 overall in this year’s draft was a huge get. He is this writer’s pick to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Cards are a year away from West contention.
NFC West Odds Tracker
NFC West Predictions
The Seahawks finish first at 10-6 (over win total), the 49ers second at 10-6 via losing the tiebreaker (under total), the Cardinals third at 7-9 (under) and the Rams fourth at 6-10 (under).