Right now when looking at the NFL landscape, the NFC West has two of the best teams in the league. Those teams are the 5-0 San Fransisco 49ers, and the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks. In the offseason, it wasn’t the 49ers and Seahawks getting the publicity. But fast forward a few months, and these are two NFC heavyweights. Meanwhile, the preseason favorite Los Angeles Rams (3-3) have disappointed, the Arizona Cardinals (2-3-1) have not taken the league by storm with their air raid offense. In this exercise, we will look at the 49ers and Seahawks and determine who is the best NFC west team.
Who Is The Best NFC West Team?
Case For Seattle
When you look at a football team, it always starts with the quarterback. In Marc Sherman’s article Top Five NFL MVP Candidates Thus Far, Russell Wilson is in it. Who would’ve thought an offense who emphasizes running the ball would have an MVP candidate at QB? In the box score, Wilson is putting up the best numbers of his career. He has 14 touchdowns, no interceptions, and leads the league in completion percentage (72.5). But its what doesn’t show up in the box score that shows just how polished Wilson is as a player. Wilson is a master at eluding pressure and makes throws every week that very few quarterbacks can.
Another reason for this success is Wilson’s IQ and familiarity with the system. In the third quarter against Cleveland, Wilson had an issue hearing play calls from his coaches. “I couldn’t hear anything so I just kept calling plays,’’ Wilson said. “When you study the game plan, you know what you want to do.’’ How did one of these drives end? With a Wilson-led touchdown drive of course. Wilson has truly mastered his system and should be in the MVP race all year.
Case Against Seattle
The biggest weakness of the Seahawks is their lack of pass rush. Through six weeks, the Seahawks are tied for 26th in Sacks (10). Their splash offseason acquisition Jadeveon Clowney has been a nonfactor thus far. Another offseason acquisition Ezekiel Ansah has only produced one sack. Trading away Frank Clark (13 sacks in 2018) to the Kansas City Chiefs was a head-scratching move in the offseason, and they have struggled to replace his production. When there’s no pass rush, the secondary has a harder job. Case in point, they rank 23rd in passing yards allowed per game. Thankfully for Seattle, third-year cornerback Shaquill Griffin is having a breakout season to help soften the damage. This is a team that should be searching for pass-rush help at the trade deadline.
Case For San Fransisco
While Seattle’s struggles come on defense, San Fransisco’s strength is their defense and mainly defensive line. Their recent draft choices Nick Bosa (2019), Solomon Thomas (2017), DeForest Buckner (2016), and Arik Armstead (2015) are all producing on a weekly basis. Standing out most of all is Bosa. Bosa’s breakout performance came in week five against Cleveland on MNF. In one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen, Bosa tallied two sacks, five QB hits, a fumble, fumble recovery, and four tackles. Trying to run the ball against this line is almost impossible too. They rank sixth in rushing yards allowed per game. When you add in Fred Warner, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander who are also playing incredible to the mix, there is no weakness in this front seven. To wrap up the defense, Jimmie Ward is in the midst of his best season at safety.
On offense this team has playmakers. Starting with the best tight end in the league, George Kittle. Although his stats haven’t been as eye-popping as expected, Kittle remains arguably the best YAC (yards after catch) player in the league. When he is running in the open field his ability to both outrun defenders and make them miss is second to none. They possess one of the deepest backfields in the league. It’s impossible to prepare for this backfield because you never know who the 49ers will feature in a given week. Matt Breida has 22.3 MPH speed, Tevin Coleman has prior experience in Kyle Shanahan’s system, and Raheem Mostert could start on some teams.
Case Against San Fransisco
Is Jimmy Garoppolo a franchise QB? The play of Garoppolo through five games has been uninspiring, to say the least. The signal-caller already has nine turnovers and hasn’t had a signature game yet. A lot of this has to do with the playcalling. Shanahan’s playcalling hasn’t allowed Jimmy G many chances to throw the ball downfield. Instead, the offense leans on short passes and letting their receivers make plays after the catch. The uncertainty of Garoppolo and whether or not he is a capable franchise QB is the biggest thing that could hold them back. The offensive line is currently without their starting tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. Getting them back healthy and having the line remain healthy is another thing the 49ers will need to make a run at the Lombardi.
So Who Is The Best Team In The NFC West?
The 49ers are undefeated for a reason. Although it is really close, the 49ers have fewer question marks than the Seahawks. Even if Jimmy G’s ceiling is a game manager at QB, the team around him is talented enough to carry him. Unless the Seahawks get pass rush help, their defense will be limited. And even though Wilson is playing at an MVP level, the Seahawks offense isn’t designed to win many shootouts. One thing is for certain when these teams clash in weeks ten and it will be incredible to watch who is the best NFC West team.
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