• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

NFC West Predictions for 2022

By Tim Lazenby

The NFC West has been pretty dominant for quite some time now.  The division winner isn’t always the same team, but if you win this division, you go far in the playoffs.  Not since 1991 has a team from the NFC West not been in the playoffs past the wild card round.  As we look ahead, will we still have a dominant team?  Let’s find out.

Arizona Cardinals

Record in 2021: 11-6-0  

Predicted Record in 2022: 11-6-0

Strengths and Weaknesses

Though the defense is pretty good in Arizona, the high flying offense is what gets it done.  Whether it be superstar Kyler Murray, the receiving game led by DeAndre Hopkins or the ground game, which runs through James Conner, the Cardinals are stacked.  That being said, management woes are rearing their ugly heads in Arizona.  If it was quiet before, it has been brought to the forefront with Kyler Murray.  Past Cardinals have sided with Murray, stating this has been a problem for quite some time.

Situation to Watch

There are many intriguing things happening in Arizona, but a lower key one takes my attention.  Trey McBride out of Colorado State has had a much quieter entry into the league than last year’s top option in Kyle Pitts.  Particularly with dynasty fantasy implications, I wonder how they’ll use him as a rookie alongside Zach Ertz.  He’s got much to learn, especially without the ball in his hands, but I’m excited to see it unfold.

Conclusion

Not many casual fans know this, but the Cardinals are actually the NFL’s oldest franchise.  While we’ve seen this team in the depths of the valley and on the top of a mountain, I feel like it’s looking up for the Cardinals in 2022.  Losing DeAndre Hopkins for 6 games hurts, but it’s a hurdle they’ll overcome.  A couple early losses with D-Hops out won’t matter once he’s back.

Seattle Seahawks

Record in 2021: 7-10-0  

Predicted Record in 2022: 3-14-0

Strengths and Weaknesses

It is true that the Seattle Roster is quite barren compared to its glory days not so long ago, but there are still gems.  DK Metcalf had a much better season last year than he gets credit for and the rest of the offense isn’t the worst in the league.  It’s hard to list a greater weakness than the quarterback room.  The current guys aren’t great, but it’s so much worse knowing what you had versus what you have now.

Situation to Watch

While I still love him as a guy, I’m very curious as to how Pete Carroll will do this season.  While the Seahawks haven’t been dominant in quite some time, with Russell Wilson you always had a chance.  A new day is dawning in Seattle and you have to question whether the sun has all but set for Carroll.  If he doesn’t make noise in this division in 2022, I fear he’ll be out the door by the end of the season next year.

Conclusion

The Legion of Boom is officially dead as no one remains from that dominant defense with Bobby Wagner now gone.  And the worst blow is knowing you are going from Russell Wilson to Drew Lock or even Geno Smith.  The offseason moves were ok and the draft brings potential, the lack of star power, save Metcalf, is very concerning moving forward.  This team has its work cut out for it, and it’s going to cut deep.

San Francisco 49ers

Record in 2021: 10-7-0  

Predicted Record in 2022: 7-10-0

Strengths and Weaknesses

The biggest strength of this team is one that doesn’t get near enough credit.  While Deebo got a ton of praise last season and everyone drools over Trey Lance, let’s not forget about one of the most punishing defenses in the entire league.  Last season both Dallas and Green Bay were rudely awoken by Fred Warner, Nick Bosa and crew.  This defense should continue to dominate for years to come.

Situation to Watch

I am waiting to see what Kyle Shanahan does this season.  Among fantasy pundits, we are maddened by his choices with his running game every season.  I know it’s obviously more important to win real life games; but if we’re being honest as fantasy football people, is it?  I also wonder what he’ll finally do with Trey Lance, like so many others.  I worry that Jimmy G just won’t go away, breaking the hearts of Lance fanboys all over fantasy leagues.

Conclusion

My assessment of this team’s record can be quite deceiving.  A 7-10-0 prediction makes it seem as though I think the team is terrible, but that’s just not true.  I honestly think it’s going to take a while for this team to get up to speed under Trey Lance.  Once this team gets solidified, however, it’s gonna be scary for the other 31 teams.  But, I don’t think the other teams will have to worry just yet.

Los Angeles Rams

Record in 2021: 12-5-0  

Predicted Record in 2022: 12-5-0

Strengths and Weaknesses

What a difference a quarterback makes.  Although there were other moving pieces, the biggest solution for the Rams’ Super Bowl puzzle was Matthew Stafford.  And if you don’t agree, just ask Cooper Kupp.  The biggest weakness is actually a result of having such a great team.  In a salary cap world, you can only afford so much.  It makes you question how much longer they can keep this elite core together.

Situation to Watch

In 2022, I want to see Allen Robinson succeed.  Largely based on my world as a fantasy manager, Allen Robinson has never had the good fortune of a great quarterback.  Truly no disrespect intended, but Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, Mitchell Trubisky and a rookie Justin Fields isn’t fair for a man with the talent of Robinson.  He now goes to Matthew Stafford and I can’t wait to see Robinson light the football world on fire.

Conclusion

I’m pretty positive, like so many others, that the Rams will win the division again this season.  And like so many others, I think they have a shot to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl again in 2022.  That being said, as I mentioned earlier, time is running out on future runs.  And it’s not age that will stop them: it’s the salary cap crunch.  All I can say is that they’ll have to make some tough choices moving forward.  It’s been an honor and a privilege to watch football magic in action, but it’s gotta end sometime.

 

Follow me on Twitter @NFLazenby