5 NFC West headlines to look for in 2018

The Rams are the favorite to win the division, but the 49ers have a chance to contend with them. Here are five things to look for in the NFC West in 2018.

With just one week remaining until the 2018 NFL season kicks off in Philadelphia, we have at last come to the final division preview. And to be completely and totally honest, the NFC West may have some of the most intriguing headlines of any division.

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Rams are the scariest team in the division, and the last time that was the case, they weren’t even playing in Los Angeles (but don’t bring that up to any St. Louis natives).

Meanwhile, up in northern California, the San Francisco 49ers are now back on the map again with their new superstar quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. With the opportunity to start for an entire season, what will Jimmy G. accomplish this year?

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are seemingly in transitional phases right now, so for the time being, the NFC West belongs to the California teams. But do either of them have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl?

(Side note: If you wish to revisit any of the previous division previews, you can find them here: AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, NFC North, AFC South, NFC South, AFC West)

And now last, but certainly not least, here are five things to look for in the NFC West in 2018…

5. The NFC West is the Rams’ division to lose

They might not quite be The Greatest Show on Turf, but the Los Angeles Rams surprised a lot of people in 2017 by winning the NFC West and making the playoffs, and they will be a very good team again in 2018 … possibly even a Super Bowl-caliber team.

Last year, rookie head coach Sean McVay proved he knows what he’s doing by turning a 4-12 team into an 11-5 playoff team. In the 2016 draft, the Rams probably would’ve been smart to take Carson Wentz No. 1 overall instead of Jared Goff, but that doesn’t mean Goff won’t be a terrific NFL quarterback. He was pretty darn good last year throwing for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

With an even better team around him in 2018, Goff is only in position to get ever better. He has Todd Gurley, arguably the best running back in the league, in his backfield. His receiving crew includes Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, both of whom were very effective last year, as well as newcomer Brandin Cooks, who was the leading receiver for the AFC champion New England Patriots last year.

Meanwhile, the Rams have an improved offensive line to give Goff better protection. Their defensive line includes the beastly Aaron Donald, a four-time Pro Bowler, and their secondary includes newly-acquired corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.

If there’s a team in the entire NFC more ready to compete for a title than the Rams, other than maybe the Minnesota Vikings, I would like to see it.

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