NFL 2018 - NFC West Jimmy McGinty Season Preview.
2017: (11-5) The Rams truly only lost 4 games last year as they rested starters in wk17. The first two losses were by one score and the second two were in Minnesota and versus Philly. This was a top-drawer side. They may have gone out in the first playoff game, but it was against a strong and more experienced Falcons side.
A young QB, RB and head coach means they could still be improving. They did get lucky with injuries last season, ranked first in average games lost, so are due a little more misfortune this season. The offensive line is strong but old so perhaps that might breakdown. Or Gurley who was very busy last season; he’d be a huge loss.
Robert Quinn, now in Miami, is a loss and so too is Trumaine Johnson now with the Jets.
I’m not sold on the big signings. Talib, Suh, Peters and Cooks were all deemed as bad influences in their respective locker rooms. Talib is old enough, Suh should be a force beside Aaron Donald (they can’t both be double teamed) and Peters is young enough to bounce back after a down year. Cooks has got a big contract so I’m not certain he’ll be up for it. The Saints and Pats both left him go relatively cheaply.
The NFC North is strong but the AFC West isn’t, so the schedule is balanced enough. Having the majority of the tough games at home (LAC, GB, MIN, PHI, KC) will give the Rams a real shot at the NFC top seed. A week 12 bye and 3 consecutive road games (5-7) are potential issues but there’s enough talent to overcome all of this.
Despite thinking the public have them a little overrated this is a young talented side in a very weak division - I’m not opposing them.
1pt win NFC 7/1 BetVictor
2017: (9-7) and a clear 2nd to the Rams as both ARI & SF struggled. The lack of a running game and protection for Russ cost them time after time.
I was going to write that all the Seahawks have is Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin but Doug is probably going to miss all of camp and pre-season with an injury. That’s not good. They’ve lost Jimmy Graham (contributed 10 TDs last year) and Paul Richardson. Ed Dickson and Tyler Lockett are unlikely to be an improvement on those two!
They scored a league low 4 rushing TDs last year so drafted running-back Rashad Penny but plenty of draft reports don’t like him.
Sherman, Bennett, Richardson and Chancellor are all gone from a once dominating defense. This Seahawks roster is a shell of the one who got to the playoffs in 2014-2016.
Seattle open the coming season with back to back road games in Denver and Chicago. Two middle of the road sides but who are very strong at home. A surprising 0-2 start wouldn’t be all that surprising to me. There are a few winnable games for sure (Arizona) but it’s hard to see them getting 8+ when you see Packers, Rams x2, Lions, Vikings, Chiefs, Chargers and Panthers on the schedule. They’ll need to beat both SF and ARI twice to have a winning record this season but I don’t believe they can. No run game, a terrible OL and a new look secondary. Tough times ahead – which is an awful pity as their QB is one of the best players in the League.
Despite his current injury Doug Baldwin to have huge yardage could be a bet (wait until he’s fit prior to wk1). They’ll be chasing games. Have no run game. Have very little receiving talent around him. He avoids the division’s top corner-backs Peters, Sherman and Peterson by generally lining up in middle of the field.
1pt e/w Doug Baldwin most receiving yards 40/1 Coral ¼ 1,2,3
2017: (8-8) 3rd in Division. After losing David Johnson and Carson Palmer to injury before week 8 the overall total of 8 wins wasn’t too bad. But the wins came against some bad teams: SF (pre-Jimmy G) x2, Bucs, Colts and Giants. And they were 29th in the League in yards per play metric. This was a poor side last season.
Looking ahead - An injury prone QB, or a rookie QB, behind a rancid offensive line is a recipe for disaster. Outside of the ageless (or aging) Larry Fitzgerald there’s no receiving talent. Run early and run often will be the plan but that’ll become predictable and game script won’t always allow it when they start trailing regularly. Tight-end Jermaine Gresham may not be fit for the season opener either. The outlook is bleak.
Both Branch and Mathieu are losses on defense. The Cardinals have a decent young QB, RB and CB but need to add so much more. One bad season, a smart off season and I’ll be back on board for 2019. But for now – dead against them. Cards went 6-2 in one score games last year, they were blessed to end up with 8 wins.
David Johnson will be the focal point. On the ground and in the air everything good they do will be through him. He’s coming off a wrist injury, not leg/knee, so I’ve no doubt fitness-wise. New head coach Steve Wilks will try to run more than Bruce Arians did. And facing many tough pass-rushing defences means DJ will see loads of dump-offs even when Arizona do actually want to throw.
Opposition - The Rams have improved, San Fran too and whilst Seattle rebuild they are still probably better than Arizona. There’s no weak team (think Bills, Jets, Browns) on the schedule. The ultra-strong NFC North (DET, CHI, GB, MIN) as well as Washington, Chargers and Falcons (all three of whom I’m trying to be with this season) makes it an awful schedule for an awful side.
2pts Under 6 wins – EVS Unibet & 888.
1pt win Cardinals to have the NFL’s worst record - 4/1 PaddyPower.
1pt win Comeback Player of the Year – David Johnson 8/1 Paddy Power (if there is market for total combined yards I’d prefer it; DJ beats Bell & Gurley)
San Fran 49ers
2017: (6-10) but (1-10) when Jimmy G took over as QB tells a tale also. And his wins came against 3 playoff bound sides and two road games (CHI & HOU) – very impressive. But he’s just one guy. There’s a reason they were 1-10 before he started - the rest of this roster isn’t great.
Running back has received a small boost by getting Jerick McKinnon over from Minnesota and the rest of the offense returns. Kittle, Garcon (now 32) and Goodwin are average enough but if Jimmy G is as good as 2018 suggests, they’ll get it done against weaker opponents. Kyle Juszczyk deserves a mention as well; he’ll feature a lot.
Richard Sherman was the big addition on D. He’ll need to recover from a serious injury (surgery on both achilles is massive) first but should help the secondary. If he doesn’t get back to near his best they’ll get sliced open regularly, the rest of the starters are average at best. Rueben Foster is suspended for the first two games minimum and if anything were to happen to the key-man of their defense, DeForest Buckner, they’re doomed. The lack of a true edge rusher is another concern.
The 49ers play 10 weeks in a row before their bye. The first 7 games include top teams Vikings, Packers and Rams as well as road trips to potential playoff sides Chargers and Chiefs. Detroit, who I’m sweet on, in week 2 won’t be easy either. It could be an ugly start in the Bay. It does get much better but if playoff football is out of reach by the time they play the likes of Tampa and Seattle on the road I fancy they could lose those games despite being as good if not better than both.
The Rams will dominate this Division and the NFC is so staked that 9 wins won’t be enough anyhow. No chance the 49ers make the playoffs despite being better than Seattle and Arizona. Without Kyle Shanahan this would be a bottom 10 roster but he propels it to midtable mediocrity.
2pts under 8.5wins 10/11 - William Hill
5pts not to make the playoffs 31/50 – Coral & Ladbrokes
NFC West 2018 predictions