Is the NFC West as Cut and Dry as It Seems?


Jan 16, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs for a touchdown after catching a pass in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As training camp continues to get closer, many folks have begun previewing the 2023 season and what we should expect to see from each NFL team in 2023. Over the course of the next couple weeks, we will be breaking down all 32 NFL teams, across all eight divisions, going over some of the biggest moves of the offseason, best-case and worst-case scenarios for 2023, and addressing some of the questions facing each team. We’re heading west now in order to decide whether or not the NFC West is as cut and dry a division as it seems to be.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws the ball away under pressure against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter in Glendale, Ariz. Sept. 19, 2021.

Cardinals Vs Vikings

  • 2022 Record: 4-13 (4th in NFC West)
  • Best Addition: OT Paris Johnson
  • Biggest Loss: WR DeAndre Hopkins
  • Underrated Move: Signing CB Kris Boyd
  • 2023 Floor: 3-14
  • 2023 Ceiling: 6-11
  • Biggest Question: How Many Games (if any) Does Kyler Murray Play?

The Arizona Cardinals roster is a shell even of the one that won only four games a season ago. DeAndre Hopkins is no longer around at wide receiver, Zach Allen left in free agency, and J.J. Watt retired. Byron Murphy headed to Minnesota, further hindering the Cardinals CB room.

Regardless of who is playing quarterback in Arizona, it is going to be tough for this team to remain competitive. However, it only gets more difficult considering that Kyler Murray likely will at least miss a substantial portion of the upcoming season. Expect this team to be in the mix for the first overall pick next spring.

Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) hands the ball off to Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) in the first quarter during Super Bowl 56, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The Cincinnati Bengals lost, 23-20.

Nfl Super Bowl 56 Los Angeles Rams Vs Cincinnati Bengals Feb 13 2022 1010

  • 2022 Record: 5-12 (3rd in NFC West)
  • Best Addition: IOL Steve Avila
  • Biggest Loss: LB Bobby Wagner
  • Underrated Move: Drafting LB Nick Hampton
  • 2023 Floor: 2-15
  • 2023 Ceiling: 5-12
  • Biggest Question: Are Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford Healthy?

The Rams seem fully committed to landing a top draft pick in 2024, and as a result, they purged themselves of a number of veterans from their 2022 roster this offseason. There really doesn’t seem to be a pathway to this team being all that competitive this upcoming season, but their only hope lies on the health of both Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford.

Both players missed extended time in 2022, which derailed the season for the defending Super Bowl champions. Even with Stafford, though, a sudden boost to their offense is going to be a very difficult feat. Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t around, Cam Akers can’t be trusted to play a full season, and Van Jefferson hasn’t been able to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was his 2021 season. Additionally, their defensive group is going to be extremely young, particularly in the secondary.

San Francisco 49ers

Jan 29, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2022 Record: 13-4 (1st in NFC West, No. 2 seed in NFC)
  • Best Addition: DT Javon Hargrave
  • Biggest Loss: RT Mike McGlinchey
  • Underrated Move: Signing QB Sam Darnold
  • 2023 Floor: 10-7
  • 2023 Ceiling: 13-4
  • Biggest Question: Who in the World Is Their QB?

San Francisco ran through the NFC all the way to the NFC Championship Game where the wheels finally fell off after both Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson went down with injuries, essentially limiting them to a rushing offense for the entire second half of that game.

Now, as we head into 2023, the question of who plays QB for the team remains extremely pertinent. Brock Purdy might not be back from his torn UCL in time, Trey Lance has not been heard from much all offseason, and Sam Darnold is quietly just sitting on the roster and might actually be the favorite to start Week 1. Regardless of who plays QB, this team has an elite defense with a ridiculous set of skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, so expect them to continue to compete in the conference.

Seattle Seahawks

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) embraces wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) following a touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2022 Record: 9-8 (2nd in NFC West, No. 7 seed in NFC)
  • Best Addition: CB Devon Witherspoon
  • Biggest Loss: WR Marquise Goodwin
  • Underrated Move: Signing LB Devin Bush
  • 2023 Floor: 7-10
  • 2023 Ceiling: 11-6
  • Biggest Question: How Good Can the Pass Defense Be with Seattle’s Young Secondary?

Lighting struck in Seattle as Geno Smith put together a truly incredible season during his first year as a starting QB since 2014. The Seahawks offense was a balanced group last year and adding both RB Zach Charbonnet and WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the draft should only make them an even harder unit to defend.

The Seahawks also landed the top cornerback in the 2023 Draft by taking Devon Witherspoon, and he will be an excellent weapon for Pete Carroll’s defense in the coming years. That being said, this is another rather young group heading into 2023, and there will inevitably be some growing pains, especially with a lack of an established pass-rushing presence. Everything rides on how this young secondary can develop.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.





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