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The Cardinals have quarterback Carson Palmer, who broke out for a career season last year, as well as one of deepest groups of wide receivers in the NFL with Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and JJ Nelson. They are also loaded at the running back position, with David Johnson coming out of nowhere last year and tearing up the NFL on the ground, through the air, and in the return game, as well as back up running backs Chris Johnson, who is primarily a runner, and Andre Ellington, who is a solid pass catcher. Not only do the Cardinals have an explosive offense, but overall, the Cardinals’ defense is one of the best in the NFL, particularly their secondary with cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu. All of this combined makes the Cardinals one of the best overall teams in the NFL, and that means that they will have a great chance to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl in Super Bowl LI.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams don’t have a great offense, however, they do have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Todd Gurley, who thrived in his rookie season last season even without a great offensive line and without solid play from the quarterback position. The Rams don’t exactly have a lot to boast about in terms of their wide receivers, however, if rookie quarterback Jared Goff and a wide receiver like Kenny Britt or Tavon Austin can create some chemistry, this will not only benefit the Rams’ passing game, but it will allow Gurley to get more opportunities in the ground game with less focus on him as the only guy worth covering on the Rams’ offense. The Rams’ defense underachieved last season, however their defensive line is arguably the best in the NFL, as it boasts both star defensive end Robert Quinn and star defensive tackle Aaron Donald. If the Rams’ offense can create some kind of chemistry and the stars of the Rams’ defense can make the players around them better, the sky is the limit for this young Rams team, and they will have a chance of bringing the Lombardi Trophy to California in their first season back in Los Angeles.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will hope that Chip Kelly can do with them what he could not do with the Philadelphia Eagles. I think that the 49ers are in a better position to do what Chip Kelly wanted to do in Philadelphia. Even though Colin Kaepernick may not be the starter at the quarterback position, he is still a fantastic running quarterback that led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII primarily because of his running skills, and Chip Kelly may decide to start him over quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Running quarterbacks are the type of quarterbacks that Kelly coaches best, as he coached the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota when he played at the University of Oregon, and Mariota’s talent is already showing in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans. Also, 49ers’ starting running back, Carlos Hyde, will get a chance to continue on his success from last year, despite his injury-shortened season. On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers do not have too many holes, and their 1st round picks from the past 2 NFL drafts both played college football for Oregon, so Kelly should know how to use them both effectively. All of these scenarios put together make it look like this season could be a turnaround season for the 49ers, and that could mean they end up representing the NFC in Houston in Super Bowl LI for a chance to bring San Francisco its 6th Super Bowl title and 1st since the Steve Young and Jerry Rice days.
The Seahawks were once again one of the best all-around teams last season. Even without likely future Hall of Fame running back Marshawn Lynch carrying the load on the offensive side of the ball this season, the Seahawks will still be able to score at a high rate, as quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the game at both passing and running the football, and running back Thomas Rawls showed his potential not only as a running back, but as a pass catcher before he got injured filling in for Lynch last season. Also, Doug Baldwin emerged last season as the clear top wide receiver for the Seahawks’ offense, and that helped Wilson to really gain confidence and become a vastly improved passing quarterback. On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks gave up fewer points to their opponents than any other NFL team did last season, and they will return most of their defensive starters this season, including star cornerback Richard Sherman and star safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. With a great all-around team, the Seahawks have serious potential to win the Super Bowl yet again, just as they have for the past couple of seasons.
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