NFL Storylines: NFC West

8/13/13 in NFL   |   GFortier   |   520 respect

Blog Photo - NFL Storylines: NFC West

The NFL's popularity is at an all-time high, and this coming season seems as intriguing as ever. Time to feed the beast and take a division-by-division look at the five biggest questions facing each team in the league. Here's the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals

Carson Palmer put up a solid season in Oakland (22 TD, 14 INT and an 85.3 passer rating) will he be able to give the Cardinals some stability, or even playmaking ability at the position?

Bruce Arians had a ton of success in Indianapolis while filling in for Chuck Pagano. Can set this young team in the right path? Remember, the Cardinals began the 2012 season 4-0, and then proceeded to win just one game after that.

With the QB position a disaster last season, Larry Fitzgerald was only able to muster up 4 TDs and 798 yards receiving. Will he find more success with Palmer at the helm?

Can #2 receiver Michael Floyd, the 13th overall pick in 2012, step up and help take some pressure off of Fitzgerald?

Patrick Peterson, arguably the most exciting and athletically gifted player on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL, will now be on the field with the offense in specific packages. Will this experiment work?

San Francisco 49ers

It's Super Bowl or bust for the 2012 Niners, and Colin Kaepernick will be leading the charge. It will be interesting to see how he does with a full training camp and preseason under his belt. Obviously, he was stellar last season, but is he immune to the sophomore slump?

Will Anquan Boldin be able to step up and fill the shoes of Michael Crabtree? If not, who will emerge as Kaepernick's #1 receiving threat?

Have they adequately addressed their secondary, which was arguably their weak link last season? They will be looking for Nnamdi Asomugha and rookie Eric Reid to step up.

Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James combine to make a formidable backfield behind the best offensive line in the NFL. As Gore gets older, will we see Hunter or James emerge as a star?

What's the next step in the evolution of the read-option offense and the way it's defended? In the Super Bowl the Ravens answered by making sure they laid a hit on Kaepernick every chance they could. It's a chess game, and to see how the offense evolves and the defense continues to adjust will be one of the most riveting storylines in the entire league.

Seattle Seahawks

There is no doubt that the Seahawks' budding rivalry with the 49ers is the most compelling matchup in the entire league. It happened very quickly. The 49ers came out on top last year, nearly winning the Super Bowl, but the Hawks roster may actually be more talented going into the 2013 season. How's this rivalry going to play out?

Will Russell Wilson follow-up his astounding performance of last season, or will he fall victim to the sophomore slump?

The injury bug has already bitten the Seattle WR corps in a big way, with Harvin undergoing hip surgery and Sidney Rice travelling to Switzerland for some kind of knee treatment. Do they have a depth to repeat the aerial fireworks they put on last season?

Marshawn Lynch is an absolute beast, but like all running backs, is especially susceptible to breaking down with age. Will 2nd-year back-up Robert Turbin be ready to carry some of the load? How about 2nd-round draft pick Christine Michael?

Will the addition of Cliff Avril make the Seattle defense even more menacing than last year?

St. Louis Rams

You may be familiar with the fact that the St. Louis Rams had the best in-division record in the NFC West last season, yet were still far from a playoff berth. Can they take the next step and qualify for the playoffs this year? 

The Rams passed up on RGIII in the 2012 draft, thus going all in on Sam Bradford. As any smart franchise should, they have built around their young QB-- spending big money on Jake Long at LT and investing in young offensive weapons early in the draft. Can Bradford respond with a big year?

Many claimed that Tavon Austin was the best player in the entire 2013 draft class. Will he live up to the hype?

Jared Cook, the TE signed away from Tennessee this off-season, is a matchup nightmare. Will he have a breakout season in St. Louis? Many expect him to do just that.

The Rams led the league with 52 sacks last season. Can their young d-line, led by Glover Quinn, eclipse that mark this year?

Other storylines: 
AFC East
AFC North
AFC West
AFC South
NFC East
NFC North

Follow @gregfortier

Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview