Predicting NFC West standings after schedule release (49ers still reign supreme)

It's time to put the NFC West through our prediction machine and see what each team's record will be once all 17 games are complete.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (L) vs. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward (R)
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (L) vs. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward (R) / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

How will the NFC West shake up with the 2024 schedule now released? And will the 49ers retain hold of the division this year?

The San Francisco 49ers will seek a third consecutive NFC West title entering 2024, and they have to feel fortunate the rest of the division is in some state of flux.

Granted, the Niners are enduring a first-place schedule after having won the NFC West a year ago, but they neither boast the toughest strength of schedule nor do they travel the most mileage (often associated with West Coast teams) this season.

Plus, a Week 9 bye is always helpful to refresh and recharge for the latter half of the regular season.

There are some quirks working against San Francisco, of course, including facing a league-high four teams coming off bye weeks.

But, for the most part, it's hard to see anything but another 49ers divisional title once the regular season is in the books.

Let's go ahead and predict both the NFC West standings and records for all four teams this season.

NFC West predictions (standings and records) for 2024

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Los Angeles Rams
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers (12-5)

The Niners retained their top core of players during the offseason, although parting ways with veteran defensive tackle Arik Armstead hurts what is still a questionable run defense.

Sure, there's a tough stretch of games late in the year, including back-to-back road games against the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills, while postseason rematches against both the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs are also on the docket.

Assuming head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad can stay healthy, and quarterback Brock Purdy replicates his MVP-caliber play from last season, San Francisco should have little trouble getting to 12 wins and winning the division outright.

Los Angeles Rams (11-6)

The Los Angeles Rams are somewhere between a major overhaul and playoff contention, which is made more difficult after watching future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald retire during the offseason.

Great news for the rest of the league, but an offensively driven LA squad should remain a top challenger within the division and could easily obtain a Wild Card spot, thanks to the leadership of head coach Sean McVay.

Provided quarterback Matthew Stafford stays healthy, and the wide receiver duo of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua stay productive, Los Angeles' offense will remain dangerous.

Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

The Seattle Seahawks quietly had a strong NFL Draft, bringing aboard promising rookie defensive tackle Byron Murphy in Round 1. And that pickup could easily place thorns in the side of every other NFC West team for years to come.

There are some notable question marks facing the Hawks, however, including having to travel the most out of any NFC team this year.

Can quarterback Geno Smith return to his Comeback Player of the Year form this season after achieving that accolade in 2022, or will he look more like the so-so signal-caller from a year ago? Will first-year head coach Mike Macdonald experience the inevitable growing pains of inheriting a team with some talent but plenty of roster holes elsewhere?

Expect a sub-.500 finish here.

Arizona Cardinals (6-11)

The Arizona Cardinals' top pick of the 2024 draft, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., might move the needle a bit for head coach Jonathan Gannon, but it's hard to see the red birds doing much more than wrapping up another last-place finish within the NFC West again this year.

Much of this hinges upon Arizona getting the most our of embattled quarterback Kyler Murray, who returned for the final eight games of the 2023 season after recovering from a torn ACL.

The Murray-Harrison connection is something to watch, yet the Cardinals lack serious impact on the defensive side of the ball and are hurting for offensive playmakers beyond the rookie receiver and running back James Conner, whom many feel is a wee bit overrated.

Gannon inherited a project when he took over duties a year ago, and Arizona is still at least a couple of years away from serious contention.

Read more from Niner Noise