Football season is quickly approaching, and the future is looking brighter with more and more states opening up. We now have multiple states who have announced that professional sports will be allowed to resume play by early June, which means the chances of football starting on time, college and professional, are only going higher. With that, comes the hype and confidence fans have about their favorite teams, and the way too early predictions start taking place. I’ll be dissecting each NFL division these next four weeks, which will give you a nice outlook of what to possibly expect in the 2020 NFL season.
This year, the NFL has made a change to the playoff rule. Instead of having six teams from each conference make the playoffs, the NFL has passed a rule to allow a seventh team for both conferences. This means, that seeds 2-7 will play on wildcard weekend, while the 1 seeds are the only teams with a bye week. The race for first place will be even more competitive than ever before, and teams on the bubble will have another chance of making the playoffs.
During my NFL predictions, I will not offer my opinion on what a team’s record will be, as it’s nearly impossible to be THAT accurate, and besides, I don’t want to find myself looking like Adam Rank did a year ago when he predicted the 49ers to go 3-13. So, I’m going to leave the ridiculous guessing to Vegas, and the “experts”. So, let’s get started, first division up is the NFC West.
The NFC West
The division looks rather strong right now, especially considering that each of the four teams have some serious talent, and some of the best coaches in the league. The 49ers did a great job this offseason, as they’ve reloaded for another deep playoff run. The Seahawks have been a dangerous team since Russell Wilson became their starting QB, and they’re rumored to regain Marshawn Lynch again before the start of the season. Arizona acquired tremendous talent to build around their young star QB, and the Rams still have some serious super star talent that will keep them be competitive. However, with only 7 playoff spots available, I only see two of these four teams making it into the post-season this year.
San Fransisco 49ers
I predict the 49ers to win the NFC West this year, and they have a serious chance to take home the best record in the NFC during the regular season. Currently, Las Vegas has them winning 10-11 games this year, which is one of the highest across the NFL. San Fran fans should feel confident heading into the 2020 season, as their team is an early favorite to win the NFC Conference Championship.
The 49er offense is going to be tough to stop next year, as they have one of the best offensive lines in the league after trading for super star Left Tackle, Trent Williams. This front line is beefed up even more than last year, and look to continue their dominance in 2020. San Fransisco will pick up where they left off, as they will keep their RB committee strategy that helped them out so much a season ago. Between Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Jerick McKinnon, the 49ers run game will look to be one of the best next year, as their O-line will do nothing but open up running lanes all year long. Furthermore, Porn Star Jimmy has an incredible arsenal of talent to throw to as well. George Kittle is arguably the best Tight End in the NFL, and Garoppolo will have Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne to throw to. The front office drafted a rookie WR Brandon Aiyk, who the team views very highly of, and has the talent to be a nice WR3 from the get go. Look for the 49er’s run heavy offense to dominate their opponents again.
This defense is incredibly strong, even after trading away Deforest Buckner. They still have Nick Bosa, and Arik Armstead as their starting Defensive Ends. They also have Solomon Thomas and drafted rookie Javon Kinlaw, who should be earning reps in his first year while he develops over his career. I also love their secondary, which will be led by Richard Sherman. Say what you want about Sherman, but the man can play at a high level, and showed everyone last year the benefits of betting on yourself.
Overall, this 49ers offense is incredibly dangerous and is backed up by a tremendous defense that can bully opponents across the league. This is going to be a difficult team to play against in 2020, and they will be the team to beat in the NFC, as the 49ers look to return to the Super Bowl this year, and leave with a different outcome.
The NFC is stacked this year, and because of the 49ers strong presence, Seattle is going to have to make due with a wild card spot (even though they’ll be one of the better teams next year). It’l be interesting to watch the Seahawks next year, as they’ll be without their 12th man throughout the season (REALLY hoping fans are allowed back in games. We’ll see though). Despite that, Vegas has the Seahawks winning 9 games this year. I think they have a great chance to win more than 9, considering their coaching staff is one of the best in the NFL, and luckily for them, Seattle didn’t make any major changes to the coaching staff. This means Seattle will have a ton of team chemistry at the start of the season.
During the offseason, Seattle acquired some new talent on their O-line to help better protect their franchise QB. Because of how many new faces are on that O-line though, don’t be shocked to see Russell Wilson using his legs a bit more often at the start of the season. But once that unit gets better playing together, the Seahawks should soar through the rest of their schedule. They have a top 5 QB in Russell Wilson, who has a great WR group to throw to. DK Metcalf looks to to improve off his already impressive rookie year, and Tyler Lockett is one of the most underrated WRs in the league. They also signed Greg Olsen to pair him up with Will Dissley, which gives Wilson two reliable targets at the TE position. Additionally, Chris Carson had a great season last year, and will look to do the same in 2020.
Considering how good that offense looks on paper, it’s easy to neglect the defense. Having said that, I’m telling you right now, DON”T SLEEP ON THEM. The defense is led by arguably the best MLB in the NFL, Bobby Wagner, and the front office did a great job acquiring young talent to help improve the defense. Rookie LB Jordyn Brooks will have an opportunity to play alongside Wagner, which will only develop him into a much better player as time goes on.
I love the Seahawks roster from top to bottom, and I think they have potential to win the NFC West over their rivals in San Fransisco. This division is going to be a fun one to watch, but right now, my choice for the Seahawks is to finish 2nd place in the NFC West, and make the playoffs.
This might come as a little shock to you, as most people have the Rams over the Cardinals this year. Vegas thinks so too, as they have Arizona winning 7-8 games in 2020. There are a few key factors as to why the Cardinals could finish higher than the Rams, and it’s all due to the acquisitions made by the Cardinal’s front office.
First, the Arizona Cardinals went and stole DeAndre Hopkins away from the Texans… No, seriously, they stole him. I’m pretty sure they held a gun to Bill O’Brien’s head and forced the trade to happen, as Arizona didn’t lose much after gaining possibly the best WR in football. This is huge for their young QB, who just won rookie of the year. As he starts his 2nd season of his career, he has the privlage of throwing the ball to DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk. The team also retained RB Kenyon Drake, who emerged as an RB1 after being traded to Arizona from the Dolphins. Match these athletes with Kliff Kingsburry’s electric offensive scheme, the Cardinals could be generating a ton of electricity next year.
The Cardinals have some exciting rookie prospects in Foku Leki on the D-line, and all-around freak athlete Isaiah Simmons in their linebacking core. Simmons was one of the best defensive talents in the draft this year, and has the potential to make an immediate impact on week one. They also have veteran DE Chandler Jones, who has been a monster throughout his entire career. Patrick Peterson isn’t the CB he used to be, but the guy can still play. This is an improved defense, however, they may not be improved enough to become an applicable unit.
I have Arizona finishing third place in the NFC West, as they’re still such a young team. They’ve made great decisions during the offseason this year, and Cardinals fans should be ecstatic about the future of this franchise. I don’t see the Cardinals making playoffs this year, but if the front office’s decisions pay off, this could be a team to pay attention to in 2021.
Los Angels Rams
The LA Rams finishing 4th place feels a bit weird. Considering they were just in the Super Bowl in February 2019. This Rams front office has made some questionable decisions, as they’ve tried to make additions for a “win now” situation. Those commitments didn’t seem to pay off last year, and now the team is facing the consequences. They’ll still be competitive this season, as Vegas has them winning 8-9 games. Despite that fact, I’m just not confident in the Rams abilities this year.
LA’s offense still has some serious talent, as Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods lead the way in the WR group. They also drafted Van Jefferson, who is a kid a ton of scouts are fired up about, and has a real chance at being a great WR3 early on in his career. They also drafted rookie RB Cam Akers, who will be competing for reps with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. The Ram’s best bet is to run a committee like the 49ers this year, as all 3 of those guys have good potential.
Defensively, the Rams have a projected 7 new starters, one of which is rookie OLB Terrell Lewis. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will be the faces of that defense, and could be enough superstar prowess to keep opposing OC’s busy. But will they be enough for the Rams defense to thrive?
At the end of the day, the Rams also hired a new OC and DC. The offense is easily the best part of this roster, and should keep them in most games. But having 7 new potential starters on defense, along with a new Defensive Coordinator, it’s going to be tough for the Rams to keep up with opposing offenses. Also factor in the strength of this NFC West division, it’s possible the Rams start the season off to a slow start, and never recover.