Today's question: Who will win the division and how many teams from the division will make the playoffs?
Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals reporter: The Cardinals are primed for another deep run in the playoffs if they stay healthy. They didn’t lose a player who scored an offensive touchdown or caught a pass from quarterback Carson Palmer, giving the offense a veteran swagger. If the Cardinals were able to put up record-breaking numbers last season, imagine what they’ll be able to do with even more experience in the offense. And on defense, they added one of the elite young pass-rushers in Chandler Jones. The division is theirs to lose. And following right behind the Cardinals will, again, be the Seattle Seahawks, giving the West two teams in the playoffs. Even though Seattle is still figuring out its offensive line and how to run the ball after Marshawn Lynch, it has enough experience at quarterback with Russell Wilson and at wide receiver with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett to keep the ball moving. And then there’s that defense up in the Pacific Northwest. Not much else needs to be said. The Seahawks will be good again this year, but it might take them a few games to find their footing rushing the ball and blocking up front. While that happens, however, the Cardinals will run to an insurmountable division lead.
Nick Wagoner, Los Angeles Rams reporter: The NFL is a fickle league and there’s generally a lot of turnover among playoff teams from year to year. But I just don’t see the Rams or 49ers pushing the Cardinals or Seahawks for NFC West supremacy. In fact, I’m of the belief that Arizona and Seattle are not only the two best teams in the NFC West but also the two best teams in the NFC heading into 2016. Both the Cardinals and Seahawks will return to the postseason and whatever changes to the playoff teams happen will come from other divisions. Deciding between those two teams as the winner of the NFC West is a difficult proposition. Football Outsiders projects Arizona to win it in part because the Cardinals get to face New England without Tom Brady (assuming his suspension holds up) and Seattle doesn’t. That one game could make the difference. But I’m going to go the other direction and pick Seattle. As always, injuries play a huge part in these projections, but the Seahawks, with Jimmy Graham and some key defenders back healthy, look ready to reclaim the NFC West crown in 2016.
Michael Wagaman, San Francisco 49ers reporter: The Cardinals knocked the Seahawks from their perch atop the division last season, and although they flamed out in the postseason, there’s a good chance they’ll return. Seattle has improved and will be in the running for a wild card but Arizona has plenty of talent and a solid defense to keep in front of the Seahawks. The Rams will definitely be better and could be a playoff contender in a few years, just not now. The 49ers? They’re just trying to get back to the break-even point.
Sheil Kapadia, Seattle Seahawks reporter: This will be a two-team race like last year. The Rams have some talented pieces, but they will need time to get going with rookie quarterback Jared Goff. The 49ers have talent in the front seven, but there is very little to work with offensively, and coach Chip Kelly must prove that he’s not just going to try to use the same blueprint he trotted out in Philly. It will come down to the Seahawks and the Cardinals. Both teams have impressive talent on both sides of the ball, defined identities and proven, veteran quarterbacks. Look for both squads to be among the NFC’s elite in 2016. The Seahawks win the NFC West, but the Cardinals get in as a dangerous wild card.