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10 Burning Questions: NFC West

NFL Summer Questions


By SAM SPIEGELMAN
XN Sports

The Seattle Seahawks finished the 2013 NFL season as the Super Bowl champions, and the division as a whole solidified itself as the best division in the league.

The San Francisco 49ers lost a number of key players in the offseason, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Arizona Cardinals endured a similar fate, while the St. Louis Rams are in a make-or-break type of season with their quarterback. So how good is the best division in football?

Here are the 10 burning questions for the NFC West in 2014:

1. Is the NFC West still the best division in the NFL?

I'm not so sure this reputation remains intact. Seattle and San Fran are still elite teams, but I project a drop-off from Arizona and another sub-.500 campaign out of St. Louis. You can argue that between the Packers and Bears and Lions, NFC North has better teams from top to bottom.

2. Can Seattle repeat as Super Bowl champions?

The core remains intact. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas III are still headlining the secondary, while Michael Bennett returns to a very talented front seven. Russell Wilson is only going to improve in his third season, not to mention Percy Harvin should be a real factor this year. With all that being said, the Seahawks should remain the favorites in the NFC.

3. Can Colin Kaepernick live up to his new contract?

I am not the biggest fan of Kaep, but he's still a potential-laden player under center. He has some new weapons in his receiving corps he needs to take advantage of. And if the defense takes a step backward, Kaep will need to step up if the Niners want to compete.

4. How long will Vernon Davis hold out, and will he get a new deal?

Davis seems set on not attending 49ers offseason activities until he's paid, and if I'm a member of the front office I'm opening my wallet right away. Davis is a talented blocker and receiver, and has been the face of the franchise for almost a decade. I understand the logic of playing out the rest of his contract, but this is a franchise player that I'd want to keep happy.

5. Is 2014 a make-or-break year for Sam Bradford?

Without a doubt. The Rams passed up drafting Johnny Manziel or signing a veteran in free agency because the team continues to put its faith in Bradford. He's got more talent around him entering this season, but if he can't make the most of those weapons then maybe it's time for the team to look in another direction. Bradford made our list of quarterbacks entering the season on the hot seat.

6. How much will injuries derail the Cardinals?

It's injuries, plus a rough offseason that'll force Arizona to take a step in the wrong direction. The aging Larry Foote and unimpressive Kevin Minter will be charged with replacing Karlos Dansby, who left in free agency, and Daryl Washington, who's suspended for the year. Tyrann Mathieu will miss the beginning of the year as he recovers from injury. Those losses cannot be overlooked.

7. Is this the last year of Beast Mode?

That's how it seems to be. The hype for Christine Michael has been off the charts, and given that Marshawn Lynch is getting older and wants more money, Michael may have an opportunity to take over sooner rather than later. Lynch needs to understand that running backs on the verge of 30 who carry the rock 300 times a season don't have too much leverage in this NFL.

8. How will the offseason impact the 49ers D?

Aldon Smith could still be suspended. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver are now the starting corners. And there's a high likelihood NaVorro Bowman doesn't return until the middle of the season. That does not bode well for the Niners, who are already in a tough spot with Seattle in their division.

9. Is it possible that Carson Palmer loses his job?

Yes and no. Palmer did pick up his play in the second half of 2013, but he's an aging player who doesn't have a high ceiling at this point in his career. The next-best option, though, is rookie Logan Thomas, who is still considered to be a very raw prospect. I don't think Arians opts for the question mark in Thomas unless the Cardinals are far out of contention by November.

10. Will Michael Sam make the team?

I think he will. SEC Players of the Year usually wind up on NFL rosters, and Sam should not be the exception. Cutting Sam would shed a negative light on the organization, and it doesn't make sense not to give Sam a shot. Conversely, keeping him on board with a chance he can find a role on this teams would result in quite the success story.

RELATED LINKS

5 NFL teams poised to improve in 2014

5 NFL teams poised for regression in 2014

Top 10 NFL defensive players who will regress in 2014

10 NFL offensive players expected to regress in 2014

10 NFL defensive players primed for bounce-back seasons

For more sports coverage, please visit XNSports.com

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
eeodjo July 04 2014 at 2:47 PM

Yes, the Seahawks are the best in NFC, West, East, North or South. What makes them the best is the offensive "DESIGN" created by the Offensive Coordinator. If the defensive coordinators of the other teams in the NFC learns how to counter the offensive "DESIGN" of the Seahawks, the results may help the other NFC teams slow down the Seahawks. Of course this is just an "if" and If's don't win games. Performance does!!!

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dawgfed5 July 04 2014 at 4:13 PM

Not a SeaHawks fan cause their coach is a pompus A$$hole but I will root for them over the 49ers because their coach is an even bigger A$$ wad!....None compare to Belechek though

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3 replies
KING JOHN July 04 2014 at 4:29 PM

if they can play defense like they did last year and not cough up the ball on offensive they have a real good chance

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geddy37 July 04 2014 at 5:13 PM

There has been much talk of the Seahawks defense being the equivalent of the 1985 Bears, 2000 Ravens, and 2002 Bucs. I hope so. None of those teams got back to the Super Bowl.

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mav2185 July 05 2014 at 2:33 AM

Hey Sam,
Before boasting about anything, try to get keep up with the program. The Seahawks, niners, have decent year, one maybe two, and you call that division the best, dream on. Did you even play football ?. You put those teams against the AFC, and they will both get banged up pretty good. Give me a Break !, Sammy. Do your homework then yap, your yap.

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2 replies
wavyvibes mav2185 July 05 2014 at 10:27 AM

It doesn't matter which conference a team plays in because all teams get banged up pretty good. I'd say the NFC is currently the better conference. It's a constant cycle.

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patrick mav2185 July 05 2014 at 3:03 PM

The AFC is weak and the NFC strong, pay attention !!

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meanstr July 05 2014 at 8:37 AM

Baseball use of inhanment drugs okay we know that is cheating.But what about using painkillers on football players that they are playing like robots who feel no pain.

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R St. Thomas, MD July 05 2014 at 11:39 AM

The Seahawks are the champs; they earned it. They are very well coached and have great playmakers on both offense and defense. But what do the Seahawks have in common with items/ people on the list below?
1. Sir-Mix-A- Lot
2. J.J. Fad (Supersonic)
3. Vanilla Ice
4. Patrice Rushen
5. The Vegan Diet
6. The Jesus Diet
7. The Gluten Free Diet
8. Mark Fidrych
9. Mark Rypien
10. Joe Charboneau
11.Timmy Smith
12. Devo
13. Pokemon
14. Twerking
15. Macarena
16. Colorado football
17. Georgia Tech football
18. Appalacian State upsets over Big Ten teams
19. Buster Douglas
20. Blackberry phones
21. Seattle Seahawks NFL Champs

All on the list are ONE HIT WONDERS. There will be no hoisting of the Lombardi by the Seahawks for the foreseeable future. They will still be a very good team, but the world is back on its axis and the 49ers are ready to unleash a reign of scarlet and gold terror that modern football has ever seen.
Only God or injury can stop the 49ers.

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2 replies
jchal20826 R St. Thomas, MD July 05 2014 at 1:26 PM

Ha,ha,ha 40 vaginers are a joke.

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patrick R St. Thomas, MD July 05 2014 at 3:06 PM

49ers will come in second and maybe even 3rd !! Hawks will be #1

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lov2elkhnt July 05 2014 at 12:40 PM

Hawks claim some up grades and wrench twists for tighter stronger team. Better? Who knows if the players from last year are as hungry this next year? Money is one thing but wanting something so bad you don't mind low bucks just to get another ring, that's the factor, desire for second ring.

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