NFL Updates: NFC West Continuity Score

September 10, 2020 2:30 am

The 2020 NFL season is turning out to be an exciting affair. There have been a host of changes, some intentional while others not so much, with regards to preseason training and roster moves. The NFC West Division is one of the most competitive in the league. Over the last couple of years, head coach Kyle Shanahan transformed the San Francisco 49ers into a well-oiled machine. With the long term future of Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle secure, the 49ers start as favorites to go all the way in the league once again.

But they will face some stiff competition from the likes of Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks, in particular, could surprise the rest of the teams this year. They have made some strong additions in the offseason including the signing of promising NY Jets safety, Jamal Adams. Russell Wilson will be key for Pete Carroll’s team as they aim to build on last season’s display.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Rams will start the season as underdogs. However, they will be playing in their new state-of-the-art LoFi Stadium in 2020.

Let’s take a look at the continuity score of each team from the AFC South Division and see how their respective campaigns can play out over the course of the next year or so.

Arizona Cardinals

NFL’s Arizona Cardinals finished the 2020 season with a 5-10-1 record. It was their first season under new coach Kliff Kingsbury who drafted Kyler Murray as the starting quarterback in 2019. They will look to build on that tally this year.

Coaching staff

Kingsbury will retain his position as head coach heading into the 2020 season. He will be joined by his trusted coordinators – Jeff Rodgers (Assistant coach/ special team coach) Vance Joseph (Defensive coordinator) and Tom Clements (Pass game coordinator/ quarterback coach). Kingsbury will hope to build on the offense that he began grooming since the start of his tenure in 2019.

Offense and defense

Murray will be the key man for the Cardinals in 2020. He will be given some support in the wideout department by former Houston Texans man DeAndre Hopkins. Kingsbury has also brought in DT Jordan Phillips, and linebackers Devon Kennard, Isaiah Simmons (Clemson first round pick) and De’Vondre Campbell in the 2020 offseason. These players will need some time to get up to speed with the team’s defensive tactics.

2020 NFL prediction

We’re thinking that the Cardinals will be made to work hard for a top two finish in 2020 considering the strengths of their opponents. We expect them to finish either third or fourth in the NFC West.

Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams will be moving into their majestic SoFi Stadium this season. They will be looking to improve upon last year’s 9-7 record under coach Sean McVay. It was the first time in three years that the Rams failed to qualify for the playoffs since McVay took charge in 2017.

Coaching staff

McVay has a 33-15 record heading into his fourth season as Rams head coach. They will be without long-term defensive coordinator Wade Phillips whose contract was not renewed. McVay will be joined by Joe Barry (Assistant head coach/ linebackers coach), Kevin O’Connell (Offensive coordinator), Thomas Brown (Running backs coach) and Brandon Staley (Defensive coordinator).

Offense and defense

The Rams will hope that the promising Jared Goff can improve from his 2019 displays from the shotgun formation. RB Xavier Jones and WR Cooper Kupp will be the other two key offensive players for the Rams in 2020. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was also brought in from Jacksonville Jaguars.

Once again, all-star defensive end Aaron Donald will form the backbone of this Rams side. They have also brought in rookie RB Cam Akers (Florida State, second round pick) and RB Van Jefferson (Florida, second round pick) in the 2020 NFL draft.

2020 NFL prediction

We concur that the Rams will be battling it out with the Cardinals for a third/fourth spot in the NFC West division.

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San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers suffered a massive heartbreak in last year’s Super Bowl in Miami. They were beaten by Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs after leading the scoreboard right until the fourth quarter. They finished the regular season with a 13-3 record.

Coaching staff

Shanahan enters his fourth year as head coach of the 49ers. He has a 23-25 record in the league but his team showed great improvement in 2019 as compared to previous seasons. He will be joined on the sidelines by Jone Embree (Assistant coach/ Tight end coach), Mike McDaniel (Run Game coordinator). Mike LaFleur (Pass game coordinator) and Robert Saleh (Defensive coordinator).

Offense and defense

The 49ers were hit with the departures of DT DeForest Buckner and WR Emmanuel Sanders. However, they have managed to hold on to some key assets in the form of George Kittle, who recently became the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback for the 49ers once again.

He will have a strong supporting cast consisting of Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne and new signing Trent Williams (Washington Football Team). They also brought in DT Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina, first-round pick) in the 2020 NFL draft process.

2020 NFL prediction

We expect the 49ers to retain their NFC West Division title despite some tough competition from west-coast neighbors Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks put up a strong display in the NFC West Division last season. They ended the regular season with a 11-5 record. They beat NFC East champions Philadelphia Eagles in the Wildcard Playoff but lost to Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round.

Coaching staff

Pete Carroll enters his 11th year as head coach of the Seahawks. He boasts a 100-59-1 record in that period. He will be accompanied by Clint Hurtt (Assistant coach), Brian Schottenheimer (Offensive coordinator), Dave Canales (Passing game coordinator), Austin Davis (Quarterback coach) and Ken Norton Jr (Defensive coordinator).

Offense and defense

Once again, Russell Wilson will be in thick of things as Seattle mount another playoff run in the NFL. The short-statured quarterback will be assisted in the wideout department by the likes of Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Philip Dorsett. They will also be boosted by the signing of in-demand safety Jamal Adams (New York Jets). The Seahawks also brought in LB Jordyn Brooks (Texas Tech, first round pick).

2020 NFL prediction

The Seahawks will pose the biggest threat to the 49ers’ dominance in the NFC West. If fortune is on their side, they might just end up as NFC West Division champions.

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Daniel Arambur

Daniel Arambur is an NFL journalist for EssentiallySports who is an admirer of the old guard in Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. He believes the latter has one more Super Bowl left in him before he bows out for good. Daniel bills Patrick Mahomes as one of the best up-and-coming quarterbacks in the league.

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