Season review NFC West

The NFC west is looking like one of the toughest divisions for this upcoming madden season. With 4 of the best coaches in one division, it’s tough to call who will come out on top. Here’s my review of these teams’ 2018 seasons and their chances for the upcoming madden year:

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Seattle Seahawks

2018 record:10-6 (reached wild card round)

Seahawks are far removed from the legion of boom but rest assured, this team are no slouches.

2018 season didnt get off to the ideal start, going 0-2 against the Broncos and bears. What was more disheartening was watching the explosion from their rivals in LA. The Rams offence looked on fire!

Nonetheless the Hawks turned it around and ended with a successful season, finishing with a 10-6 record. Not what they would have wanted but a pretty respectable standing. But let’s not forget that Seattle fans are used to this level success. The team have had a total of 6 10-win season since Russel Wilson was drafted, the only ommission coming in 2017 where the team finished 9-7.

Dont worry, I didnt just overlook Wilson that quick. There’s a lot of factors that have gone into the success of the hawks but Wilson is one of the key components. The Seahawks have recorded 75 wins since Wilson came on board, the most of any QB in their first 7 seasons. Now wilson may have lost his safety blanket in receiver Doug Baldwin but he now has a new target… DK Metcalf! The guy disappointed in the agility drills at the combine and is thought of as a poor route runner but with his raw speed and size this guy is a huge target for Wilson, especially deep down the field. Russell is elite and I fully expect him to be on fire this madden season and those Xfactor Superstar abilities will make him unplayable at times.

Now Wilson wasn’t the only guy working here. The team took to the run game and recorded an average of 160 rushing yards per game with an average of 4.8 carries per game. I fully expect to see the hawks making the most of their backfield talent with Chris Carson and second year back Rashad Penny sharing the load.

It wasnt all guns blazing for the Seahawks. The oline was poor in the passing game with Wilson taking a total of 51 sacks, the most since he joined the team. So if I was going to name an area for improvement it would have to be protecting the signal caller. You can’t win a game if wilson is injured!

Let’s talk Defence. The Hawks have a member of the madden 99 club, Bobby ‘BWagz’ Wagner! This dude is elite and will be a staple of this roster for the whole madden year. Build around him and this defence can return to the glory days. Head coach Cam will be breaking interception stat year on year with this dude. Add a pass rusher after losing Frank Clark to the chiefs and look at gaining some additional help in the secondary and there’s no reason why this team can’t return to the top of the defensive stat lists.

The season ended in the wild card stages with a loss to the Cowgirls… Boys! I mean Cowboys!!!! Now this year I expect them to give deeper into the playoffs under elite head coach Beyond The Game. The Seahawks are my pick for the NFC champion and nothing but a super bowl appearance will suffice for this team.

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LA Rams

2018 season record: 13-3 (first round bye 2nd seed)

THE LA RAMS! Seems a long time ago that this was a team in St Louis struggling to win a game under Jeff Fisher. After the move to LA tbings didnt automatically come good, it was still a struggle and with 1st overall pick Jared Goff’s career being stifled under Fisher it was time for change. In came new HC McVay and the rams never looked back. Now we look forward to what this mighty roster can do under new Madden head coach Darren (HanSolo).

The 2018 season was an impressive one to say the least. The team put up crazy numbers and really looked like a superstar offence in the early weeks. The team had more 30 point games in thos season than they did during the whole of Fishers 5 year tenure. The team scored at least 30 in 75% of their regular season games this year trying a franchise record with the 1999 team. This was only the 3rd rams team ever to record 13 wins in a season. This impressive season saw the rams go all the way to the super bowl after their controversial victory over the Saints. They lost in a narrow game against the Patriots and I’m sure they will be desperate for revenge.

With playmakers all over the field, including signal caller Goff and superstar running back Todd Gurley, this team made moving the ball look easy. The team recorded the most 1st downs in franchise history with 401, only the 3rd team in NFL history to break 400 1st downs in a season. The offence was on fire, finishing second in the league for total points scored with 527 with a total of 6,738 total yards, the 2nd most in franchise history. Now Goff can’t move the ball without receivers getting open. The Rams had one of the best receiver duos in the entire league with Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks playing some outstanding football. Cooks, acquired form the Pat’s last off season for a 1st round pick, is knows for his electric speed over the top but is also a very reliable pair of hands anywhere on the field. With 11 TDs between them, the pair were the first Rams tandem to record 1200 yards each since 2004!

DEEEEEEFENCE!

The Rams may have an explosive offence but this is only possible if the defence do their job and keep putting them back on the field. The Rams defence stepped up this year and much of that can be put down to the elite talents of Aaron Donald. The guy is the best defensive player in football and arguably the best inside rusher ever. This is reflected by his presence in the madden 99 club, stacked with Xfactor and superstar abilities. This guy will give the opposition no time in the pocket this year. Whether coach HanSolo decides to user Donald or leave him to the cpu, expect big numbers from this guy. Donald came up just two sacks short of Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record, whilst still setting the franchise record with 20.5 sacks, in a season,1.5 clear of Robert Quinn’s mark. He also holds the all-time record for sacks by a defensive tackle in a season, and is the first player at his position to reach at least 20 sacks in a single season. MONSTER!

Its important to note that Donald isn’t alone in this defence. With a supporting cast of Michael Brockers inside and Dante Fowler, Samson Ebukam and new addition Clay Mathews outside, this team will dominate opposing Olines.

The secondary here cannot be overlooked either. Young talents such as john Johnson and marcus peters mixed with the old guard of Aquib Talib and Eric Weddle, this team is stacked at almost every position on the defence. Coach Hansolo really is in for an exciting year.

Now every team has areas they can improve. For the rams it would be getting younger in the secondary. Talib and weddle will last a season or two on madden but finding a younger replacement has to be an early priority. The Oline is solid enough, with just a centre required to really prosper. However there are some aging pieces here also, Whitworth wont be around forever and its worthwhile ensuring your left tackle spot is filled for years to come.

This truly is a stacked roster and I fully expect the Rams under new head coach Hansolo to challenge for this divsion. On paper they are clear favourites to proceed to the post season, can they return to the super bowl?

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San Francisco 49ers

2018 season record: 4-12

The anticipation of the 2018 season quickly soured when franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3. The 49ers went on to finish 4-12, tied for the league’s second-worst record, giving them the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It was yet another season that didn’t end in the playoffs, but considerable value must be placed on developing a young roster which should excel in 2019 under new head coach Ricky… we all wait to find out if there is enough ‘cheese’ in San Francisco for him 😉

The 49ers were dealt a tough hand with Garoppolo’s and Jerick McKinnon’s season-ending knee injuries. The defensive secondary was decimated with injuries. And Reuben Foster, one of the team’s most promising youngsters, was kicked off the team in Week 11. The 49ers were competitive in all but four games — both losses to the Rams, an 18-point loss to the Bucs, and a 27-point loss to the Seahawks. These 49ers, operating with young and inexperienced players, were better than their 4-12 record suggests and I fully expect them to push on now.

The offence here has potential and with Jimmy G returning and the backfield stacked with names like McKinnon, breida and new addition Tevin Coleman, I fully expect them to explode into life. Breida who took over as the starter after McKinnons injury, led the league in yards per carry for the majority of the NFL year, until he suffered an ankle injury that hampered him throughout the second half of the season. Through his first 11 games, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 81.5 total yards per game. He missed two of the final five games, preventing a 1,000-yard campaign in his second NFL season. He finished with 153 rushes for 814 yards and three TDs. It will be interesting to see what Ricky does with this backfield, I fully expect one to be traded away though.

The 49ers need to improve in the fourth quarter, where they scored fewer points than anyone in the league, and the red zone, where they converted touchdowns at the lowest rate in the league. But I believe Head Coach Ricky can get the best out of this roster with his offensive scheme. The TE George Kittle was hugely impressive in the 2018 season as has become one of the premier tight ends in the league for the upcoming madden year. With Goodwin taking the top off with that speed and Dante Pettis underneath we can expect a special offence here; the addition of rookie Deebo Samuel further improves this group.

The Defence of this team is another solid group, notably the front 7. The niners are spoilt for choice along the D line, with 2nd overall pick Nick Bosa being the most exciting. A line of Bosa, Buckner, Armstead and new addition Dee Ford will be terrifying for opposing QBs; whilst the impressive youngster soloman thomas will struggle to get a look in on the starting line.

Linebacker is where this team is weakest. Foster has moved on to the redskins, but the acquisition of kwon Alexander in free agency has helped to fill this void. In their 4-3 system though it seems there is a real need for an additional outside linebacker here.

The secondary in San Franciso is good enough to compete. Richard Sherman is the stand out elite guy but he is aging and wont be around for long. Jason Verrett has arieve after several seasons with the chargers and is a solid starter. Their are some younger guys looking to break in such as akheelo Witherspoon but I think a huge priority for coach Ricky will be to get younger in this secondary.

The Oline here are secure at the tackle position, but a point must be made than Stanley is old and must be replaced sooner rather than later. Ricky may want to find a centre in the off season too.

I fully expect this team to come out of their recent slump and hit the post season this year. There is no limit to how far this team can go. But its worth remembering that the NFC west will be one of the hardest divisions in football this madden year.

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Arizona Cardinals

2018 season record: 3-13

This year was not Arizona’s as the team dealt with injuries, personnel changes and a dismal 3-13 record.

During the team practice at State Farm Stadium, starting center A.Q. Shipley went down with a torn ACL and headed to the injured reserve, ending his season before even playing a regular season game. Pegged as the most durable of the offensive lineman, Shipley started all 16 games the previous two seasons, losing a guy this important was tough. In addition to Shipley, six other Cardinals offensive lineman, D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Mike Iupati, John Wetzel, Jeremy Vujnovich and Korey Cunningham, made their way to the IR.

With a continuous revolving door of injured lineman, the play on the field suffered greatly. Offensively, Arizona ranked last in total offense (241.6 yards per game), total points (225), rushing yards per attempt (3.8) and rushing yards per game (83.9). The line also allowed 52 sacks, tied with Oakland and Miami as the fifth most in the league. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen accounted for 45 of the 52 after coming into the team in week 4. With an offense constantly spurting, the lack of scoring was evident as the Cardinals managed just 15 touchdowns.

The offensive coordinator was sacked after a 45-10 pummeling to the Denver Broncos. It was clear that this team couldn’t get anything done on offence . Frustrations were growing in Arizona and the veterans were not immune to this. All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson reportedly requested a trade just over a week before the NFL trade deadline. It was a long and tough season for the cardinals and when it finally ended, the decision was made to relive HC Steve Wilks of his duty and appoint new man Yabbas_Turd as head coach. The 2015 season seems a long time ago now but this franchise were 1 game away from the super bowl then, can they go one step further this madden season.

With many glaring issues surrounding this roster, the QB situation wasnt necessarily one of them. However the Cardianks decided to select Kyler Murray with the 1st overall pick. An electric athlete with all the skills needed, this man could be a superstar in the right hands. The 2019 draft was huge for this team and the players picked could have an immediate impact on this roster.

Byron Murphy selected in the 2nd round looks a great talent at corner back and will look to form a formidable partnership ship with elite corner Patrick Peterson on the other side. The selection of Andy Isabella, the pick gained from trading Rosen, should give Murray another weapon on offence; whilst Zach Allen taken in the 3rd brings some much needed youth to the Dline.

Now Murray may be the new star on offence but lets not forget about David Johnson. The running back was arguably the best back in football just 2 years ago, despite being ravaged by injuries I full expect Johsnon to be among the elite backs this year. The team have also made some moves on the offensive line, adding Marcus Gilbert formerly of the Steelers. With the return of Humphries and Pugh from injury as well as the veteran presence of Shipley, this oline can be productive. However o definitely expect coach Yabba to try and add a piece or two in the off season. With the veteran Fitzgerald and the youth of Isabella and Hakeem butler to compliment there is no reason why this team can’t really push on.

The Defence in Arizona isn’t terrible. The Dline may be aging but they can still dominate for a season or two. Veterans Suggs and Chandler jones will be powerful off the edge, with younger guys like nkemdiche and rookie Allen complimenting. The team seems built for a 3-4 system but who knows what scheme coach yabba may bring. The cardinals lost long serving linebacker Buccanon in free agency but quickly acquired Jordan hicks as a replacement whilst Hassan Reddick remains and still poses a lot of potential. The secondary is very strong for this team. The acquisition of safety Swearinger was huge and pairing him with Budda Baker will greatly improve this defence. Peterson doesn’t need any explaining and is a premier corner whilst rookie Murphy Jr can develop into a great player.

This team is the weakest of the 4 in this division but the roster is very young. The first season may be a challenge for coach Yabba but after a year of developing and setting his scheme I fully expect this team to challenge in year 2 and beyond. Murray will be special

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