1. NFC West
Some of the NFL’s divisions are difficult, but none compare to the NFC West. Once a punchline for ESPN and media members around the country, the NFC West has gone from joke to juggernaut over the past three years. The Seattle Seahawks are coming off consecutive Super Bowl appearances while the Arizona Cardinals have back-to-back winning seasons to hang their hat on.
Seattle appears loaded for another championship chase in 2015, trying to become the first time since the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills to make a Super Bowl three straight seasons. The Seahawks have a killer ground game in Marshawn Lynch along with the multi-talented Russell Wilson. However, the biggest strength in Seattle is the defense led by the Legion of Boom. With Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas patrolling the secondary, scoring through the air will remain a tall order.
The Cardinals and St. Louis Rams are both teams that should be fighting for a playoff berth. Arizona is ahead of St. Louis at the moment after going to the postseason last year, something the Rams have not done since 2004. The Cardinals have a trio of talented receivers in John Brown, Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, along with a solid defense and excellent coach in Bruce Arians. Meanwhile, St. Louis has a revamped roster paced by first-round pick Todd Gurley and quarterback Nick Foles.
The only bad team of the group is the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco was decimated in the offseason with Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith retiring. In addition, the 49ers watched as Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati also left via free agency, while former head coach Jim Harbaugh was fired. It was a brutal few months for San Francisco to say the least.
Still, the NFC West will be an absolutely dogfight.