The first week of the 2020 NFL season is in the books, and three of the four NFC West division roommates closed it out with a victory. The only team without a win right now is the defending conference champion San Francisco 49ers, who looked like a hollow shell of what they showed on the field in 2019. With injury concerns coming into the season and now adding to the pile, this team will have an uphill battle to make it back to the dominant juggernaut they were last season.
Seattle looked like a much more aggressive team in week one, as Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes and completed nearly 90% of his passes while playing on the road in the eastern time zone in a traditionally tough environment. None of it mattered to Wilson, and this team could actually be underrated with its fully loaded offense and a defense that is now capable of stopping the opposing team. It’s entirely possible that they get brought down to earth as early as week two, but as of right now, they look like an elite team.
The Rams won a tight contest against Dallas in their new stadium in prime time on Sunday night, but it took a lot to get there and neither team looked sharp. If the Rams are trying to be dominant on offense and defense, we haven’t seen what that looks like yet, but it is early. There are legitimate question marks on the offensive line, at running backs, receivers, and the secondary, which are a lot of things to figure out and makes me wonder if this team can put it all together. They already have their first win out of the way, we’ll see how many more they can put together.
Arizona went on the road to San Francisco and brought home the victory, winning a tight game and making few mistakes along the way. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins look like they established an instant connection, and this offense should roll when those two are clicking, as it will only open things up for the rest of the team. Needing a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the game won’t work most weeks, though, and even though they unseated the defending division winner, they still have a long way to go to prove they are a legitimate contender. They did look sharp for most of the contest, though, and we will all be curious to see what the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray offense has in store for us in year two.
So what is going to happen this week?
Seattle hosts New England on Sunday Night Football, the second consecutive NFC West hosted game to be featured on SNF, after the Rams hosted Dallas last week. Both the Seahawks and Patriots are in the win column after one week, and the Patriots’ new look on offense with QB Cam Newton looked pretty good despite not throwing much. Their run-first offense may have worked against Miami, but they will likely have to be more balanced and aggressive if they are going to take down Seattle.
On the flip side, Seattle will probably have to be more balanced in this contest and get the running game involved, as they were not much of a factor on the ground in Atlanta, but then again, they didn’t need to be. We will see who wins in a battle of strength vs strength. New England would prefer to keep the score close and control the tempo, but they might have to be a bit more aggressive in this game and pass more. What worked for them last week will probably need to be revamped against a more competitive opponent.
I expect Seattle to win its first home game, but it might be closer than most would expect. These may be the New England Patriots, but they are not the Patriots dynasty of the last two decades. Tom Brady isn’t the only player who has departed or took the year off, they have some early injuries, and we’ll see if they have enough firepower to duel with Wilson and the Seahawks. I am predicting a Seattle victory in this one.
The Rams travel to Philadelphia this Sunday morning, and get a taste of what road life in the eastern morning time slot feels like. Their opponent was up 17-0 a week ago, only to lose in stunning fashion to the Washington Football Team. QB Jared Godd will look to put together a better game than he did a week ago, completing a good amount of passes but failing to throw a touchdown pass with one pass going the other way. It was not a memorable night for the Rams offense, although they did get a lot going on the ground, which may be the best way to attack the Eagles. Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz was selected just after Goff in the 2016 draft, and while both have had their moments, the jury is still out on either player as to whether they can be a long term starter in the NFL. Hopefully both players will be out to prove their worth this Sunday and will give the fans watching from home something to cheer for. The Eagles need this game more, but I expect the Rams to take care of business and head to week three 2-0.
Arizona hosts Washington this week, and both teams enter this game after securing surprising victories on the road last week. Washington will try to pull off the road victory a second time, but Arizona gets to play in their home dome this week, and hoping to build off last week’s road win. Both teams feature mobile, second-year QBs and elite receivers, although the edge goes to Arizona as they have annual all-pro Hopkins whereas Washington has second year receiver “scary” Terry McLaurin who turned heads with his playmaking ability in his rookie year, but has a lot to prove still so early in his career.
Washington looked like a team just trying to hold on in the first half last week, only to score 20 unanswered second half points and head home with the unlikely victory. They will have to play a more complete game travelling coast to coast and against an Arizona team that usually plays tough for four quarters. It will probably be a close game, but I expect Arizona to notch their second victory.
San Francisco will be asked to travel to the eastern time zone this Sunday to play the Jets, who look like one of the more helpless teams in the league. After getting pushed around by the Bills last week, the Jets now get to host the 49ers, who may be limping, but have enough fire power to outlast and outscore one of the weaker teams in the league. Sam Darnold is a talented QB, but he has limited weapons in the passing game, a running back that played his first game in San Francisco in 2005, and a defense that doesn’t quite stop the other side enough.
On the flip side, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have about the same amount of weapons to work with as Darnold has, and that’s not great. The passing game has been decimated by injuries as George Kittle injured his knee in the first half last week, and while he’s not practicing, he is hopefully playing. Receiver Deebo Samuel was a surprise breakout a year ago, but remains out with a foot injury, rookie Brandon Aiyuk was supposed to start in Samuel’s place, but sat out last week with a sore hamstring. That led to running backs being Garoppolo’s favorite targets in the second half, and it wasn’t enough to win. The defense also lost Richard Sherman for at least a couple of weeks, and the offense signed verteran receiver Mohamed Sanu to add depth to a limited group. I don’t like what is happening to the 49ers, but they are still a stronger team than the Jets, and should win this one.
If my predictions prove to be true, the standings would stay the way they are for another week, with Arizona leading the division as they would have both a division win and a two conference wins. If Arizona were to lose and Seattle and LA win their games, I believe LA would lead the division going into week three based on two conference victories against Seattle only playing one game in conference so far.
No matter what happens, it should be another fun and exciting week in the NFC West. Best of luck to all teams, and enjoy all the action from wherever you get your sports these days.
Seattle’s game can be found on NBC at 5pm on Sunday night, while the other three teams will be subject to regional broadcasts. Most likely FOX will air the 49ers game in the morning and the Cardinals in the afternoon, so you will likely need Sunday Ticket at your home if you are looking for access to the Rams game.