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Los Angeles Rams face high expectations while Seattle Seahawks in transition in NFC West preview

Breaking down the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks heading into the new season.

Jay Asser 2018/09/06

With the Los Angeles Rams primed to challenge for the Super Bowl, the rest of the NFC West seems to be playing for second.

The San Francisco 49ers will be intriguing in the second year of their head coach-quarterback pairing, while the Seattle Seahawks will feature an almost completely new and unrecognisable defence.

How the Arizona Cardinals fare is still anyone’s guess.

Learn more about the teams with our NFC West team guides.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Head coach: Steve Wilks

Star player: David Johnson

Last season: 8-8

Key ins: Sam Bradford (Minnesota), Tre Boston (LA Chargers), Andre Smith (Cincinnati), Justin Pugh (NY Giants), Josh Rosen (rookie), Christian Kirk (rookie), Mason Cole (rookie)

Key outs: Adrian Peterson (Washington), Tramon Williams (Green Bay), Justin Bethel (Atlanta), John Brown (Baltimore), Tyrann Mathieu (Houston), Jared Veldheer (Denver)

Strengths: Defence has multiple players with game-changing ability.

Weaknesses: Wide receiver is shallow after Larry Fitzgerald as they’re relying on young or unproven players.

Verdict: Rosen could be on the field sooner than they want and the result may be another .500 season.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Head coach: Sean McVay

Star player: Aaron Donald

Last season: 11-5, lost in Wild Card round

Key ins: Brandin Cooks (New England), Marcus Peters (Kansas City), Aqib Talib (Denver), Ndamukong Suh (Miami), Sam Shields (Green Bay)

Key outs: Tavon Austin (Dallas), Connor Barwin (NY Giants), Trumaine Johnson (NY Jets), Alec Ogletree (NY Giants), Robert Quinn (Miami), Sammy Watkins (Kansas City), Kayvon Webster (Houston)

Strengths: Blue-chip talent is through the roof, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Weaknesses: Linebacking unit was torn down to spend money elsewhere.

Verdict: Facing massive expectations but built to win a title.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Head coach: Kyle Shanahan

Star player: Richard Sherman

Last season: 6-10

Key ins: Richard Sherman (Seattle), Alfred Morris (Dallas), Mike McGlinchey (rookie), Date Pettis (rookie)

Key outs: Trent Brown (New England), Carlos Hyde (Cleveland), Eli Harold (Detroit), Brandon Fusco (Atlanta), Jerick McKinnon (injury), Elvis Dumervil (retired), Eric Reid (free agent)

Strengths: Offence is expected to take another step with Jimmy Garoppolo in his second year with Shanahan.

Weaknesses: Lack of pass rushing, which they didn’t really improve on, could hold them back.

Verdict: Have an exciting future, but clearly sit behind the conference’s elite sides.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Head coach: Pete Carroll

Star player: Russell Wilson

Last season: 10-6

Key ins: Brandon Marshall (NY Giants), Erik Walden (Tennessee), D.J. Fluker (NY Giants), Rashaad Penny (rookie), Raheem Green (rookie), Shaquem Griffin (rookie)

Key outs: Michael Bennett (Philadelphia), Richard Sherman (San Francisco), Paul Richardson (Washington), Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota), Kam Chancellor (retired), Jimmy Graham (Green Bay), Cliff Avril (free agent)

Strengths: Have a quarterback who can lift up everyone around him.

Weaknesses: Defence has suffered massive turnover.

Verdict: They appear headed for a rebuilding year, but should fight until the end as usual.

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Related Tags
Aaron Donald Arizona Cardinals David Johnson Jimmy Garoppolo Kyle Shanahan Los Angeles Rams Russell Wilson San Francisco 49ers Sean McVay Seattle Seahawks