The battle in the wild, wild NFC West will certainly be one of the most exciting to watch this year. You’ll likely need 10-11 wins in an extremely tough division to secure a Wild Card spot. Which of the head coaches in the division have the most to prove? Let’s rank them in reverse order.
4. San Francisco 49ers
John Lynch And Kyle Shanahan have got to feel good about what they’re building in San Francisco. They are fresh off a Super Bowl appearance and the roster is talented. They lost DeForest Buckner but added one of the most talented interior defensive linemen in the draft in Javon Kinlaw. Their stalwart left tackle Joe Staley retired and they somehow upgraded the position by adding Trent Williams. Their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, is on a cap-friendly contract. After signing Arik Armstead and Shanahan to extensions, along with having their stud pass-rusher Nick Bosa on a rookie deal, they are sitting comfortably as the season approaches.
3. Seattle Seahawks
In a quarterback-driven league, when you’ve got the best quarterback in the division, you always have a legitimate opportunity to win. However, some would suggest that this strategy has enabled the team to let other areas slip, to some degree. Seattle’s drafts in recent years haven’t been stellar and the offensive line still needs to improve. With the Legion of Boom era officially over, their attempt to rebuild the defense in the aftermath has been a work in progress. Their defense was ranked in the bottom tier of the NFL in 2019. However, Russell Wilson is still playing at a high level and Seattle has made the playoffs eight times in Pete Carroll's 10 years at the helm.
2. Los Angeles Rams
It seems like an eternity ago when the NFL was searching for the next Sean McVay, the hotshot young offensive guru who took the NFL by storm. In his third year at the helm, Los Angeles missed the playoffs and Jared Goff regressed faster than the ink could dry on his new contract. Goff’s inconsistency in 2019 could be attributed to a number of things, including the injuries and regression of the Rams’ offensive line. Todd Gurley was a shell of his former self and was ultimately released. However, they still have arguably the most dominant defensive player in the NFL in Aaron Donald. I look for Los Angeles to return to form in 2020.
1. Arizona Cardinals
This is the team most experts are picking to have one of the biggest turnarounds in the NFL this year. They still have future Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball in Chandler Jones and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald. Jones is coming off another stellar double-digit sack year and Fitzgerald continues to produce while providing valuable leadership to a team that desperately needs it. The team appears to have found the right quarterback in Kyler Murray and re-signing running back Kenyan Drake should take some of the pressure off of Kyler. They added one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins for a ham sandwich and kiddie carton of apple juice. However, the jury is still out on head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He still has yet to prove he can win and win consistently. In fact, he hasn’t had a winning season at any level since going 7-6 (4-5 in conference play) at Texas Tech in 2015. Kliff, prove you can be a leader of men in 2020 and you’ll be well on your way toward resurrecting football in the desert.