Are the Seahawks Poised to Be the Best in the NFC West?

As offseason training activities begin and draft picks begin to acclimate to the NFL atmosphere, predictions can now start to be somewhat accurate in regard to how teams will perform during the season. The Seattle Seahawks did something during the last weekend of April that they haven’t done in a long time: they drafted for need. By drafting big bodies on the offensive line, depth at running back, and block-eaters for the defensive line, there doesn’t seem to be any major holes on Seattle’s roster.

The Rams, after trading away a slew of picks in order to obtain Jared Goff, still only really have defensive line talent, especially after signing Dominique Easley to a one-year deal. Goff doesn’t have much around him other than Tavon Austin, and it doesn’t seem like the offense will be able to keep pace with higher scoring teams in the league. The 49ers, who are still relying on Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, should pose little threat in the division. Despite having two Oregon tree trunks in the middle of their line, the defense shouldn’t be too imposing, while the offense has little talent outside of Torrey Smith and Carlos Hyde.

It goes without saying that Seattle’s main competition for the division crown is Arizona. After bolstering the pass rush by trading for Chandler Jones and drafting Robert Nkemdiche, the Cardinal defense looks to be just as ferocious as ever. A lot will hinge on Tyrann Mathieu’s health, but assuming he is fully recovered after his ACL tear, Arizona will be as stout as ever.

Seattle and Arizona will both have monstrous defenses in 2016, and they will both be explosive on offense as they were last year. At that point, the main difference between the teams lies at the quarterback position.

I believe that Carson Palmer deserved the MVP last year over Cam Newton. I have no qualms with saying this, and I think Palmer is a great quarterback. But I believe that the Russell Wilson that we saw in the second half of the season in 2015 is the quarterback that is here to stay. With a little bit of pass protection, Russell Wilson becomes the most valuable player in the NFL. His combination of preparation, leadership, physical ability, and self-belief elevates him into the elite tier of quarterbacking.

I know that Carson Palmer is great and he may well throw for over a million yards in 2016. Hell, Arizona may even win the division. They’re a great team. A Super Bowl contender, poised to make another deep run. But what I saw from Palmer in the playoffs this season, thumb injury or not, does not have me convinced that if Arizona and Seattle faced off in the playoffs, Arizona could pull off a win.

There can be no certainty in claiming Seattle will reign supreme next season in the West, as injuries always take their toll on teams and flukey things tend to happen on a weekly basis. But even if they somehow lose the division to the Cardinals, the emergence of Russell Wilson as an elite quarterback has Seattle poised to be, record aside, the best team in the NFC West in 2016.

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