2023 NFC West preview

September 5, 2023

AP/Kiichiro Sato

49ers 11-6

There’s an audible creaking noise in San Francisco. Like the sound of a window closing.

Brock Purdy will be QB1 in San Fran with Trey Lance going from third overall pick to third string QB — in Dallas. But with the way things went last year, the Niners might miss Lance at some point.

Even with a championship-caliber defense and an anticipated Brandon Aiyuk breakout to aid a loaded offense, I don’t think Purdy is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Furthermore, the Dave Preston corollary comes into play in the major way, as the Niners play four games on the East Coast with a 1 p.m. kickoff (including a late-season tilt in Washington) and four teams coming off their bye.

This is still the best team in a bad division but don’t be surprised if there’s a loud slam in the Bay Area come playoff time.

Seahawks 9-8

Seattle took many by surprise in 2022, and while Geno Smith and Bobby Wagner (yes, again) won’t sneak up on anybody this year, I have the Seahawks starting slow because of injuries on defense (safety Jamal Adams, linebacker Jordyn Brooks, cornerback Tariq Woolen won’t start the season). The ‘Hawks will be playoff contenders but don’t expect much beyond that.

Rams 4-13

If the exhibition slate is any indication, this might be an overestimation.

The Rams not only went 0-3 in the preseason, they lost their three games by a combined score of 109-34. The only holdovers from LA’s Super Bowl-winning defense is Aaron Donald and Ernest Jones. That’s it. That’s the list.

The Rams added 14 players via this year’s draft, making the team so young, Matthew Stafford apparently sounds like the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. As if that isn’t bad enough, the Rams face four teams coming off their bye (including Washington).

Count on a season so bad, Sean McVay takes his talents elsewhere in 2024.

Cardinals 2-15

Let’s just say football season in the desert this year isn’t promising.

Jonathan Gannon got hired as head coach despite his Eagles defense getting carved up in the Super Bowl like a Thanksgiving turkey. Arizona unceremoniously released DeAndre Hopkins, their “franchise” quarterback Kyler Murray won’t play the early part of the season (if at all, because, you know, the Cards are trying to stack the deck for presumed No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams). Former No. 8 overall pick Isaiah Simmons was dealt to New York for a seventh round pick and a pack of Big Red.

The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock even before the 2023 season begins — just how they want it.

And because of that, don’t be surprised if Williams refuses to play in the literal and proverbial desert.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Playoffs | Awards

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on WTOP.com.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up