NFC West contenders
Los Angeles Rams
Last year’s NFC champions are one of the first teams out of most people’s mouths when they speak of NFC contenders. Yet in spite their 3-1 start, the Rams haven’t exactly looked to be the offensive juggernaut they’ve been in years past.
Through four games, they’ve managed an overall offensive Pro Football Focus grade of just 75.7, good for 10th in the NFL, and their offensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, is 11th at just 3.2 percent.
These numbers are fine, but they aren’t taking the league by storm anymore.
There are several reasons for the slippage, including the inconsistency of running back Todd Gurley, an offensive line that has been one of the worst pass-blocking units in football so far and the regression of quarterback Jared Goff.
The Rams are still the NFC champs until they are dethroned. But if the offense and defense are both equally middle of the pack, even if they’re on the upper side of that group, they are beatable.
Especially, as seen on Sunday in their 55-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if they are not the better team on offense.
If there’s anyone in the conference who should be able to produce a better offense, it’s 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. He’ll need more consistency from his offensive unit. But if he’s able to get that, the Rams could very well be in trouble.
If the Rams are an upper middle of the pack team on both sides of the ball, the Seattle Seahawks are even less impressive so far in 2019.
Their 72.4 and 68.6 grades on offensive and defense are, so far, good enough for 19th and 16th in the league, respectively. And while their offensive DVOA of 12.7 percent is good enough for seventh (right behind the 49ers at 13.1 percent), their 3.1 percent defensive DVOA is only 17th in the NFL.
The “Legion of Boom” days are long gone, leaving more on quarterback Russell Wilson and offense. And they’ve been good enough to get off to a 3-1 start, but have played closer-than-expected games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, who have combined to win one game so far in 2019.
Neither unit seems capable of willing the rest of the team to a division title or deep playoff run like the defense did in going to back-to-back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014. So while they still have solid players across their roster, even with Wilson playing as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, they won’t likely be enough for them to be real contenders.
In terms of production, the 49ers have been better than Seattle in almost all phases.