Rosenthal’s NFL division power rankings: NFC West third-best

Jun 15, 2018, 6:29 AM
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, is tackled by Seattle Seahawks cornerback ...
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, is tackled by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell, center, as cornerback Justin Coleman (28) closes in during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

The NFC West is the third-best division in football, Around the NFL’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote.

Filled with strong coaches, young quarterbacks and four teams undergoing remodeling, Rosenthal thinks the NFC West could be a formidable division.

“This has been the best division in football on balance for the decade — and it’s on the way back up,” he wrote.

First, he mentioned the head coaches of the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

“Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan are set up to have the best coaching rivalry of the next decade,” Rosenthal said.

He then briefly mentioned quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo by saying Shanahan “has the edge” at the quarterback position. Garappolo saved San Francisco from an embarrassing finish, leading the team to victories in all five of his starts to close the season.

McVay’s quarterback is no slouch himself; Jared Goff showed his rookie year struggles were a thing of the past behind the new, young coaching staff.

While the Seahawks have not won more than 10 games since 2014, their history and core means the NFL has to sleep with one eye open.

“Any team led by Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas can’t be counted out,” Rosenthal wrote.

Finally, he got to the Cardinals: “Any offense with Josh Rosen and David Johnson should be fun to watch.”

It’s still unclear how long it will take for Rosen to grab the reins from presumptive starting quarterback Sam Bradford. And Rosenthal didn’t even mention future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald or Pro Bowlers Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones.

All that adds up to what Rosenthal considers the third-best division heading into 2018.

The best: He says the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons each made the playoffs last season.

Even the fourth team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have shown potential.

“The Bucs’ stirring comeback win over the Saints in Week 17 of last season was a reminder that there are no easy games here,” Rosenthal wrote, before adding that the Bucs have improved their offensive line.

“This is the only division where all four teams are realistic threats for double-digit wins,” he said.

The other division above the NFC West was the NFC North, which will feature the Kirk Cousins-led Minnesota Vikings, the Matthew Stafford’s Detroit Lions and a healthy Aaron Rodgers for the Green Bay Packers.

Plus, Mitch Trubisky will enter year two for the Chicago Bears.

As for the rest of the power rankings:

No. 4: AFC South – Jaguars, Titans, Colts and Texans

No. 5: AFC North – Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns

No. 6: AFC West – Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos

No. 7: NFC East – Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, Giants

No. 8: AFC East – Patriots, Bills, Dolphins, Jets

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Rosenthal’s NFL division power rankings: NFC West third-best