The Rams won the division last season behind the league's highest-scoring offense. Can they repeat? Our experts weigh in.
Brady Henderson, Seattle Seahawks reporter: The Rams will win the division and will be the only NFC West team to make the playoffs. While free agency can sometimes be fool’s gold, there’s no doubt that the Rams have the most talented roster in the division after adding the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks to a team that won 11 games last year. The 49ers are a team on the rise with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, and the Seahawks shouldn’t be as bad as all of their big-name subtractions this offseason suggest they could be. The Seahawks could conceivably top last year’s 9-7 record if everything falls into place. But the NFC North and South still seem more likely to produce two playoff teams apiece.
Lindsey Thiry, Los Angeles Rams reporter: The Cardinals will play for a first-year coach and uncertainty looms around the quarterback situation. The Seahawks are in rebuild mode after missing the playoffs. The Niners still have question marks on defense. So that leaves the Rams, the reigning division champions, to repeat atop the NFC West. The Rams return 10 of 11 starters on offense and bulked up their defense, acquiring All-Pro cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and All-Pro defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. Not to mention their offense features reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley, and their defense, reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Given the strength of the NFC South and North, there’s a strong possibility only one team from the West makes the playoffs.
Nick Wagoner, San Francisco 49ers reporter: The Rams will win the NFC West and be the only team to represent the division in the playoffs. Los Angeles pushed its chips into the middle of the table and is prepared to make a run at the Super Bowl, though it won’t be easy in a loaded NFC. And it’s because of the talent and depth in the NFC that the Rams will be the only team to make the postseason from the West. In addition to the Rams, there are teams like Philadelphia, Minnesota, New Orleans, Green Bay, Carolina and Atlanta all boasting recent playoff experience and stacked rosters. That doesn’t even account for the many other talented teams that dot the conference landscape. So, while a team like San Francisco could take a big step forward and finish 9-7 or 10-6, it’s entirely possible that won’t be enough to make the postseason. It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened to a deserving NFC West team, either. In 2013, Arizona finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs.
Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals reporter: It’s tough to argue against the Rams. They went 11-5 last season while leading the NFL in points scored. They barely touched their offense, swapping Sammy Watkins for Brandin Cooks in free agency, and bolstered their defense with significant signings, making an already good unit even better. If the Rams can stay healthy, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will lead them to another West title and back to the playoffs, where they’ll be joined by the 49ers. They were 1-10 before Jimmy Garoppolo got his first start last year and then finished the season 6-10. If they can carry that late-season success over to 2018, they’ll be in prime position to make the playoffs.