The Arizona Cardinals again appear to be the Seahawks’ biggest threat in the in the division.
Here’s a look inside the NFC West as the Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals and 49ers get ready for the 2016 NFL season:
Los Angeles Rams
Last season: 7-9
New faces: QB Jared Goff, CB Coty Sensabaugh, DE Quinton Coples.
Comment: The Rams were more active re-signing their free agents than in bringing in new players. And they attempted to solve their inconsistent play at quarterback by drafting Goff No. 1 overall. But Goff is likely to open the season as the team’s No. 3 QB.
Key losses: DL Chris Long, LB James Laurinaitis, TE Jared Cook, CB Janoris Jenkins, DB Rodney McLeod.
Comment: The Rams moved on from Long and Laurinaitis, two centerpieces of their defense the past few years. The Rams also let Jenkins and McLeod, two longtime starters in the secondary, go.
Strengths: The defensive line. Again. Nothing much has changed there. It’s still loaded. It still has Aaron Donald in the middle. It can still give the Seahawks problems. Same story as last year.
Weaknesses: Quarterback. Again. Goff might be the QB of the future, but it doesn’t look like he’s ready. So it looks like Case Keenum at the moment.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher had maybe the quote of the offseason on HBO’s Hard Knocks: “I’m not going 7-9 or 8-8 or 9-7, OK?” Fisher has never won more than seven games in any of his four seasons coaching the Rams; he has gone 7-9 three times. That’s probably what’s ahead.
Last season: 13-3
New faces: DE Chandler Jones, G Evan Mathis, S Tyvon Branch, DE Robert Nkemdiche.
Comment: One of the few criticisms of the Cardinals last season was their pass rush. So they traded for Jones, who had 12.5 sacks for the Patriots last season and has had at least six sacks in each of his four seasons. The signing of Mathis also shows the Cardinals are in win-now mode.
Key losses: G Jonathan Cooper, S Rashad Johnson, OL Bobby Massie, CB Jerraud Powers.
Comment: The Cardinals moved on from Cooper, who they drafted seventh overall in 2013 and traded to New England for Chandler Jones.
Strengths: The offense. Particularly, Arizona’s take-no-prisoners deep passing attack. Quarterback Carson Palmer generated some MVP attention last season, and he has a variety of receivers to target. The Cardinals led the NFL in total yards and points last season.
Weaknesses: The secondary. It’s hard to write that for a team that has Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson in the secondary, but both are coming off surgery, and the Cardinals have question marks.
The Cardinals went 13-3 and won the NFC West last season. They have a real chance to win a Super Bowl this season and at least should compete for the title.
San Francisco 49ers
Last season: 5-11
New faces: Coach Chip Kelly, OL Joshua Garnett, DE DeForest Buckner.
Comment: It didn’t take long for Kelly, the former Oregon coach, to land another job after getting fired by the Eagles. He takes over a team in transition.
Key losses: OL Joe Looney, OL Alex Boone, WR Anquan Boldin, CB Kenneth Acker.
Comment: The 49ers let Looney and Boone, two of their stalwart offensive linemen the past few seasons, leave in free agency, another reminder the franchise is going through a transition.
Strengths: The secondary. The 49ers have Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward and veteran Antoine Bethea back to form the strength of the roster.
Weaknesses: Quarterback. The 49ers will likely start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback during their season opener. Gabbert actually played OK in eight starts for the 49ers last season, but it doesn’t speak highly of the 49ers chances this season that he’s the favorite for the starting job.
Not much. The 49ers hope Kelly learned from his mistakes with the Eagles. At one time not long ago, Kelly was the next genius in the NFL. The 49ers are banking he still has that in him. This season won’t fully decide that, but it’s a start.