NFL Previews That Don’t Suck: NFC West

This is unquestionably the best division in football. Residing here is are the Super Bowl champs, the team the Super Bowl Champs beat to get to the Super Bowl, a ten-win group that barely missed out not he playoffs, and a team with one of the best young defenses in the NFL. Got it? Good.

Seattle Seahawks

2013 Record – 13-3, 1st Place in NFC West, Super Bowl Champions
NFC West Record – 4-2

Notable Losses: Brandon Browner, Golden Tate, Clinton McDonald, Sidney Rice
Notable Additions: Kevin Williams, A full year of Percy Harvin (hopefully)
Notable Draft Picks: Paul Richardson, Justin Britt

How ’bout them Seattle Seahawks? They crushed the Broncos in the Super Bowl last year and guess what?!? THE GANG IS BACK FOR ANOTHER GO AROUND EVERYBODY!

To the rundown we go! Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Harvin, Bobby Wagner, Malcolm Smith, Michael Bennett, along with Richard Sherman and the rest of the Legion of Boom. Satisfied? Have fun beating that team everyone!

Most teams that win the Super Bowl get crushed in the following offseason by free agency. For example, the Ravens got savaged by free agency losses two years ago. They had to sign Joe Flacco to a massive deal and let just about everyone go.

This is not the Ravens by any stretch of the imagination. The Seahawks, led by their Madden cover boy and resident Twitter HOFer Sherman, should kick ass this year.

Best Case Scenario: 2013 repeat
Um, last year? The exact same year is their best case scenario. 13-3 season, No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, topped off with a Super Bowl blowout. Pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that.

Worst Case Scenario: 11-5, 5 seed in playoffs
Not-So-Bold Prediction: Seattle will make the playoffs. Whether that’s as NFC West Champs or as a wild card team, they’ll be there. The 49ers were just a game behind them in the division and a few inches away from a Michael Crabtree touchdown pass that sends them to the Super Bowl instead of the 12th man (speaking of which, who retires a No. 12 for the fans? Anyone who wears that No. 12 jersey is an idiot).

vs. Packers
@ Chargers
vs. Broncos
@ Washington
vs. Dallas
@ Rams
@ Panthers
vs. Raiders
vs. Giants
@ Chiefs
vs. Cardinals
@ 49ers
@ Eagles
vs. 49ers
@ Cardinals
vs. Rams

San Francisco 49ers

2013 Record – 12-4, 2nd Place in NFC West, NFC Conference Championship
NFC West Record – 2-4

Notable Losses: Donte Whitner, Mario Manningham, Carlos Rogers
Notable Additions: Antoine Bethea, Jonathan Martin (yes, that Jonathan Martin), Steve Johnson
Notable Draft Picks: Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde

“It’s a game of inches” is one of the worst cliches in all of sports. But it’s hard to say the 49ers weren’t jusssssst a few away from a date vs. Peyton Manning in the Meadowlands last February.

However, Richard Sherman tipped the pass that landed in Malcolm Smith’s arms and yada, yada, yada the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and the 49ers, um, didn’t.

This year, the Niners are still outstandingly great. Unfortunately, the best defense has taken a hit to start the year. Aldon Smith recently got suspended for nine games and All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman (#State) won’t be back until midseason after ripping up his knee.

However, they have more than enough to tide them over until both of them return for the 2nd half of the season. At last check, they still have Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis, a top-5 NFL offensive line, and a nightmarish defense that no one wants to face.

Best Case Scenario: 12-4, NFC West Champs, first round bye
Who’s the best team in the NFL that isn’t the Seahawks. Yepp, you’re looking at them. Honestly, it’s almost a coin flip between the Hawks and Niners as to who’s going to get a first round bye, and who’s getting a wild card spot.

Worst Case Scenario: 10-6, wild card
The Niners take a step back, but still have a season many teams would envy. The absences of Smith and Bowman hurt them more than expected and Kaepernick remains the same inconsistent yet sometimes spectacular player he was last year. They will make the playoffs, that much is certain.

@ Cowboys
vs. Bears
@ Cardinals
vs. Eagles
vs. Chiefs
@ Rams
@ Broncos
vs. Rams
@ Saints
@ Giants
vs. Redskins
vs. Seahawks
@ Raiders
@ Seahawks
vs. Chargers
@ Cardinals