Red has had trouble with this division in the past. For example, last season he had the Cardinals winning the division and the 49ers finishing last. Hard to be more wrong than that. So with a good shot of his morning Covfefe, Red plunges into this dangerous territory.
Every season one team rises from the dung heap of failure and grabs the facemask of destiny. Last year Red thought it would be the Cards under Wunderkind Coach Kliff Kingsbury. Alas, not much went right. The Cardinals started with a tie against the lowly Lions and then proceeded to go 3-9 in the next 12 games. There was a 3 game win stretch in there where it looked like the sails were finally pointing in the right direction – but again, Alas! But after Week, the Cards were only blown out one time by the Rams in a 34-7 humiliation. They closed strong with wins over the Browns and Seahawks and a close loss to the Rams to finish 5-10-1. This year KK has a slightly seasoned QB in Kyler Murray who can run and throw and now has two legitimate WRs with the addition of All-World DeAndre Hopkins and the maturing Christian Kirk. And then there is tired old Larry Fitzgerald ready to get you a first down when the chips are down. Ditching oft-injured David Johnson for D-Hop was widely viewed as the steal of the off-season. RB Kenyon Drake (acquired mid-way through the 2019 campaign) looks like a good fit for KK’s wide open offense. The Cards will win by scoring, scoring and more scoring. Don’t be surprised if they lead the NFC in total points. They won’t come close to the Chiefs or the Ravens, but playing the losers schedule helps and it will be good enough to WIN THIS DIVISION at 12-4.
Unfortunately for Red there is not a lot to not like about the Seahawks this year -except maybe the schedule. Seattle is somewhat of a notoriously slow-starting team. No preseason hurts – especially looking at the September schedule when the Seahawks face off against the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys. No other NFC team likely faces a tougher opening stretch. Led by the force that is Russell Wilson, the offense will ramble on. In case you weren’t paying attention, Wilson has thrown for 30-plus touchdowns in 4 of the last 5 years. Mahomes and Jackson may hit that mark someday, but Wilson has the experience and maybe a long-deserved shot at MVP in his third season with offensive mastermind Brian Schottenheimer. Yes there are questions with 3 new O-Line starters and whether WR DK Metcalf is really the real deal (after the greatest playoff game for any rookie WR ever). The defense is always tough and once again probably sports the best secondary in the NFC if not the NFL with Diggs and Adams striking fear into the hearts of opposing QBs. Red likes the Seahawks to go 12-4 as well and get in as top Wildcard.
San Francisco 49ers
Red did not believe last season. He was wrong. He believes a little more this year and probably won’t be as wrong (impossible to be more wrong actually). But the following season record of Superb Owl losers is not great. Other than the Patriots, only one team has come back to win their division after losing the big game. Here, the biggest problem for the Niners was the NFL scheduler. They open against the chip on their shoulder Cardinals, followed by back-to-back games in New York. Triple reverse time-zone hex totally in play. They also travel to New England, New Orleans and Dallas – all games which Red could see them losing. The Niners are good. The schedule is bad. That all adds up to 9-7 and maybe a shot at a Wildcard and maybe not.
Los Angeles Rams
My how the mighty have fallen. Someone has to be the doormat in the toughest division in the NFL. This year it is the Rams. LA is 7-9.