NFL Divisional Preview: NFC West

The NFC West is loaded once again in 2014. The Seattle Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl Champions, the San Francisco 49ers are the defending NFC runners up, the Arizona Cardinals were the best team to not make the playoffs a season ago, and St. Louis has four first round draft picks on their defensive front. Games within the NFC West are going to be an absolute knock down, drag out fight in 2014. In saying all of that, this division is up for grabs. It’s hard to repeat, so naturally Seattle will fall back a little bit. San Francisco has been marred by some early season concerns, so St. Louis and Arizona have found themselves an opportunity. Will they take advantage of it?

The Seattle Seahawks had a little drama at the start of the season with Marshawn Lynch holding out. They seem to have resolved that for now and are on the right track. Lynch rushed for over 1,200 yards a season ago. Seattle’s defense will have to continue to be sharp for them to play at the highest level this season. The Seahawks allowed just 172 passing yards a season ago, best in all of football. San Francisco has several key injuries, including running back Kendall Hunter, and also the suspension of Aldon Smith. The 49ers have got to improve their pass game from a season ago, that moved less than 190 yards per game. Collin Kaepernick received a nice extension on his contract in the off-season, so San Francisco hopes that can pay off.

The St. Louis Rams had another nice draft, with Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald coming in the first round. Donald will join Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and Chris Long, along with other solid contributors. Greg Robinson should join Jake Long to form a formidable offensive line to protect Sam Bradford. Bradford’s running mates appear to be Zac Stacy, Tre Mason and Chase Reynolds. For Arizona, they hope to continue bringing the best rush defense in the NFL. Last year they allowed just 84 yards on the ground. Last year the Cardinals won 10 games and yet did not get an opportunity to play in the playoffs. Carson Palmer will again be the starting quarterback in Arizona.

Seattle hosts the first game of the season, as they welcome Green Bay into town. The 49ers start at Dallas, Arizona plays the final game of Week 1 on Monday Night against San Diego and the Rams host the Vikings. Some big games in the NFC West include Seattle hosting Denver September 21st, Seattle at Philadelphia December 7th, San Francisco with Chicago September 14th, San Francisco at Denver October 19th, St. Louis at Kansas City October 26th and the Rams at Washington December 7th. Arizona is at Denver October 5th and at Atlanta on November 30th. Some divisional games to note: Seattle/San Francisco games are set for November 27th and December 14th. Seattle/St. Louis – October 19th and December 28th and Seattle/Arizona slated for November 23rd and December 21st. The 49ers/Rams are October 13th and November 2nd, while San Francisco and Arizona are September 21st and December 28th. Finally, St. Louis and Arizona meet on November 9th and December 11th.

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