It’s mid-July, and before we know it, we’ll be in the thick of the preseason counting down the days until kick off Week 1 – if we aren’t already doing so.
Heading into 2016, and looking at the NFC West, despite all the big moves, it looks like the race will be only two deep yet again.
Sure, the Rams moved from St. Louis to supposedly greener pastures in Los Angeles, and just up I-5 in San Francisco – or Santa Clara, maybe – the 49ers brought in Chip Kelly after the terrible train wreck of a team they had under Tom Tomsula.
Cosmestic changes aside, both those teams are still lacking significantly, especially when compared to the Seahawks and Cardinals, who are both among the class organizations of the NFL right now.
Moving to Los Angeles doesn’t suddenly upgrade the Rams’ quarterback play. While they will have no.1 overall pick Jared Goff under center, he is still going to be a rookie, and make rookie mistakes.
In the Bay Area the Niners are still trying to restock their talent after the sudden exodus they witnessed last offseason. They still don’t have a defense, and no one is betting on Colin Kaepernick to suddenly morph into the elite quarterback many thought he was on track to be even just two years ago.
In the desert meanwhile, the Cardinals return every receiver that scored a touchdown for them last year. They added Robert Nkemdiche to their defensive front, making them younger and more athletic in the pass rush.
However, Carson Palmer will be 37 this season, and age can show itself quickly and unexpectedly. But they do have Bruce Arians, one of the best head coaches in the game today, surely he will find a way to emphasize Palmer’s strengths, even if he does lose a step or two.
Another coaching great roams the sidelines for the Seahawks as well, and as long as Pete Carroll is chewing gum and zipping all over the place in Seattle, the Hawks will be in the hunt for a division title.
Their core is still intact, and much younger than the Cardinals. Although despite their youth in years, guys like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and the rest carry a bevy of experience fighting for championships.
With an admitted bias, I trust the Seahawks more to get it done this year based on their youth. This year they will not have to deal with the distraction of a Kam Chancellor holdout to start the year, which hopefully will be enough to get them out of the habit of starting slow, and see them play strong from start to finish.
Betting on an uncharacteristically strong start out of the gate, the Seahawks should have what it takes to reclaim their NFC West crown.
Photo: Flickr/Keith Allison