NFC West training camp storylines to watch

The NFC West is the most talented division from top to bottom in the NFL, so there is no shortage of training camp storylines. Every team in the West projects to win at least eight games in 2021. When healthy, all four teams could make a run for the division title. The Arizona Cardinals probably have the toughest uphill climb, but they have a lot of talent. Which of these NFL teams has the best chance at the NFC West?

NFC West training camp storylines

The Seattle Seahawks simply do not lose football games. No matter how harsh the 12th man reacts to the team for the way they attack the game, they continue to win. The Los Angeles Rams upgraded at quarterback and have one of the brightest offensive minds in the sport. Kyler Murray has many people believing he could be an MVP candidate. The San Francisco 49ers finally have the depth at quarterback to win games even if Jimmy Garoppolo goes down with an injury.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are one of the more intriguing teams in all of football. This NFC West team heads to training camp with high hopes, particularly on offense. They have more receivers than a control center and a quarterback whom many are high on heading into 2021. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury must figure out a way to make this team more explosive offensively through the air.

Defensively, the Cardinals need to get every drop out of J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones because their cornerbacks aren’t necessarily impressive. Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins are a fascinating linebacking duo, but they are still very much unknown.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams injected life in the offense and the media with the trade for Matthew Stafford. The offensive line is aging but is still a talented group overall. The receiving corps, meanwhile, acquired DeSean Jackson. Adding him to the group gives them the freedom to get him on the field without worrying too much about injury. They already have three solid receivers. Robert Woods remains underrated, Cooper Kupp is a great slot option when healthy, and Van Jefferson is a great route runner.

The defense lost Troy Hill and John Johnson III, which were losses they could not recover from in any way through free agency. They still have two of the best defensive players in the NFL in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. However, the loss of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley will be felt as well. There is a lot of unknown within this Rams team, but it still projects as the NFC West favorite as we head into training camp.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are one of the more fascinating teams in the league. They had wild success in 2019 with a healthy Garoppolo, heading all the way to the Super Bowl. Now, with what looks to be a healthy QB room with Garoppolo and third-overall pick Trey Lance, it will be tough to find too many excuses for the Kyle Shanahan-led team if they struggle.

Nevertheless, losing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is a tough one to overcome. It’s especially difficult, considering the team is a bit bare at the cornerback position. Jimmie Ward is great playing safety, but the outside cornerbacks are unknown for this NFC West team heading into training camp. Nick Bosa is one of the brightest young pass rush stars in the NFL, and he’ll need to show it if this defense is to be successful. Fred Warner should continue to flourish as the league’s best linebacker. What this defense needs most is for Javon Kinlaw to take the next step in his development.

Offensively, this team can attack in a multitude of ways. Brandon Aiyuk has already proved to be a dangerous weapon. George Kittle trails only Travis Kelce as the best tight end in the league. If Deebo Samuel remains healthy, they get a receiver back that averaged a remarkable 12.1 yards after the catch per reception. Moreover, Kyle Juszczyk has single-handedly saved the fullback position over the past few years.

Which 49ers quarterback will start in Week 1?

This is the biggest question surrounding the NFC West as we steamroll toward training camp. Will Shanahan stick with Garoppolo, or does he place his faith in the high-upside rookie? They’re in a difficult predicament. If Garoppolo starts and wins games, it puts a ton of pressure on Lance to do the same when he finally does relieve Garoppolo. Conversely, Lance might not be ready to start on Day 1, and if he struggles, the fans will turn on him and want Garoppolo to come in for relief.

These are challenging waters to wade in. Shanahan must go about this carefully or risk facing a mob of unhappy fans. Las Vegas believes this is a 10-win team. I think that’s very rich.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are one of the more entertaining franchises around. Pete Carroll and company take a lot of chances. They’ve neglected the offensive line for years, and not too much has changed in that regard. However, they no longer have the defensive starpower to carry the team. No, that burden lies solely in the right arm and legs of Russell Wilson.

In the first half of 2020, Wilson looked like he may run away and hide with the MVP trophy. A shakier second half of the season killed those dreams, but the team still went 12-4 in the first year they decided to actually “let Russ cook.” The comments from Carroll about wanting to run more in 2021 are scary for Seahawks fans. While they were efficient in 2020, both passing and rushing the ball, they were much more dangerous overall through the air.

Heading into training camp with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett greatly helps this NFC West team. Yet, their third receiver is very much a mystery. They selected speedy wideout D’Wayne Eskridge in Round 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Although he projects as the third receiver, it’s always a gamble to rely on an unknown at a position that’s becoming more important on NFL teams every day.

Defensively, they lost Shaquill Griffin in the offseason, and their pass rush lacks starpower. The loss in the secondary is a tough one, considering they already struggled to defend the pass last season.

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Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch