1. Los Angeles Rams
The sky is the limit with this group as they suddenly got better than last years group.
2. San Francisco 49ers
There’s no denying that what QB Jimmy Garoppolo did last year was simply amazing.
3. Seattle Seahawks
It’s a transition year for this franchise and a lot is riding on how they will react to it.
4. Arizona Cardinals
Everything has changed from the head coach, to the quarterback and even the defensive scheme.
Head Coach: Sean McVay
Key Position: Defense
There’s no telling how good this unit could be this year. It wasn’t a shutdown unit last year, but with the reigning defensive player of the year in DL Aaron Donald locked up for another six years, that’s a good start. Him and Ndamukong Suh on the same line is just not fair. Also adding Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to the secondary weren’t bad moves either.
Key Acquisitions: WR Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots), CB Marcus Peters (Kansas City Chiefs), DT Ndamukong Suh (Miami Dolphins), CB Aqib Talib (Denver Broncos)
Key Rookies: None
Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan
Key Position: Defense
This isn’t an elite unit, but the pieces are there. Time to see DeForest Buckner break into that elite mode of a Calais Campbell clone. Richard Sherman is a solid cover man, but that achilles injury will have an affect. That means Ahkello Witherspoon needs to take another step in his development. They need to be consistent if they want to be a playoff contender.
Key Acquisitions: RB Alfred Morris (Dallas Cowboys), C Weston Richburg (New York Giants), CB Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks), RB Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota Vikings)
Key Rookies: T Mike McGlinchey, WR Dante Pettis, LB Fred Warner
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Key Position: Running Back
They finally bit the bullet this year and drafted a running back in the first round. Rashaad Penny has deceptive speed for his size, but can also be that bruiser which Pete Carroll covets. Even without a consistent rushing attack the last two seasons, QB Russell Wilson still had amazing seasons. But defense’s were beginning to get after him more frequently knowing there was no running game to speak of.
Key Acquisitions: G D.J. Fluker (New York Giants), K Sebastian Janikowski (Oakland Raiders), WR Brandon Marshall (New York Giants), DE/LB Barkevious Mingo (Indianapolis Colts), G J.R. Sweezy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Key Rookies: RB Rashaad Penny, DL Rasheem Green
Head Coach: Steve Wilks (Carolina Panthers)
Key Position: Offense
This really depends on one position, but with RB David Johnson back and healthy, that alone should solve a lot of the issues. QB Carson Palmer retired and now Sam Bradford enters to bridge the gap to their future quarterback in Josh Rosen. Larry Fitzgerald is still a productive receiver at his age. The biggest issue will be on the offensive line where 52 sacks allowed last year doesn’t bode well for Bradford’s health or Rosen’s development.
Key Acquisitions: S Tre Boston (Los Angeles Chargers), QB Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings), OL Justin Pugh (New York Giants), T Andre Smith (Cincinnati Bengals), CB Jamar Taylor (Cleveland Browns)
Key Rookies: QB Josh Rosen, WR Christian Kirk, OL Mason Cole