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The NFC West's four teams have the largest variance of any division in 2023. It's been a parity-filled division since 2015, with each of its four teams -- the San Francisco 49ers (twice), the Seattle Seahawks (twice), the Los Angeles Rams (three times) and the Arizona Cardinals (once) -- taking home the crown in that span.   

The 49ers (13-4) won the 2022 division title with ease, ending the season four games ahead of the NFC's seventh-seeded Seahawks (9-8). The Rams (5-12) took hold of a not-so-enjoyable NFL record, possessing the worst record for a defending Super Bowl champion in league history. A season-ending injury to Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray led them to drop all the way down from being a playoff team in 2021 to having the third-worst record in the entire league in 2022.

Even though San Francisco waltzed to a division title last year while rotating three starting quarterbacks -- Trey LanceJimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy -- its reign could be in jeopardy with Seattle having one of the best 2023 NFL Draft classes because of its four picks in the first and second rounds, thanks to the trade of Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. The Rams could also return to the hunt with improved health, making the NFC West one of the league's most intriguing divisions. The Cardinals are the one team that won't be a serious threat for the division crown between Murray's knee injury that will likely cause him to miss games in 2023, a new regime looking to reset the roster and its culture and a defense that has a strong chance to be one of the NFL's worst once again. 

With that in mind, here is a look at how the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams could conclude the 2023 regular season with the hard-fought title of division champion. 

San Francisco 49ers

Christian McCaffrey
SF • RB • #23
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Despite the quarterback uncertainty after Brock Purdy's elbow injury in the San Francisco 49ers' season-ending, 31-7 NFC Championship Game defeat, they still boast one of the NFL's most complete rosters. Their current odds to win Super Bowl LVIII are +750, tied for the second best in the NFL with the reigning NFC champion Eagles. Only the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs have shorter odds at +600.

Those odds are reflective of the fact that they could probably sign a random fan the week before a game and have that person play quarterback well enough to escape with a win. Having a cast of playmakers like wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, tight end George Kittle, and running backs Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell with head coach Kyle Shanahan calling plays allows for whoever their quarterback is to press buttons like they're playing "Madden" in order to string together successful plays with ease. 

Defensively, they not only return nearly all of their starters from the NFL's top defense of 2022, but they strengthened their defensive tackle spot -- their biggest weakness -- in free agency after signing former Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler Javon Hargrave to a four-year, $84 million contract. 

49ers defense (2022 regular season)

PPG Allowed



Total YPG Allowed






* 49ers' best since 2011

When Hargrave lined up in the defensive tackle spot on the Eagles' defensive line in 2022, he registered 9.0 sacks (tied for the most in the NFL at the position) and totaled the highest quarterback pressure percentage (14%), also the most in the league at that spot. The 49ers had dreadful production out of their defensive tackle position when rushing the passer, tying for the fewest sacks (1.0). They also ranked 11th in pressure rate (7%) at that spot. Putting Hargrave next to 2022 Defensive Player of the Year and 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, whose 18.5 sacks led the NFL and whose 90 quarterback pressures co-led the NFL along with Dallas Cowboys defensive weapon Micah Parsons, will give opposing quarterbacks nightmares all season long. As long as their pieces around the quarterback position offensively can stay healthy, the 49ers will be in a great position to repeat as NFC West champions. 

Seattle Seahawks

Geno Smith
SEA • QB • #7
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DK Metcalf
SEA • WR • #14
REC YDs1048
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The 2022 Seattle Seahawks were like finding a crumpled $20 in your jeans pocket after taking them out of the washing machine -- a pleasant surprise.   

After trading Russell Wilson, once their longtime face-of-the-franchise quarterback, to the Denver Broncos in exchange for three players (QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant and DL Shelby Harris) along with five draft picks (two firsts, two seconds and one fifth), it appeared as if the team was punting on the 2022 season. However, with Wilson's former backup, Geno Smith, outplaying Seattle's only Super Bowl champion quarterback in Year 1 of the divorce, Seattle snuck into the seventh and final NFC playoff spot at 9-8, becoming one of only two teams to reach the playoffs and have multiple first-round picks, joining the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles

With Wilson and former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett not jelling, Smith had an incredibly low bar to clear in order to outplay his predecessor last season. However, he did more than just outplay him: Smith played at a top-10 quarterback level to earn the first Pro Bowl selection of his nine-year career at 32 years old. Simply an unfathomable outcome at this time one year ago. The longtime backup led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8%), set the Seahawks' single-season passing yards record (4,282) and ranked in the top five in the entire league in both passing touchdowns and passer rating. While initially viewed as a stopgap, Smith earned himself a big-money deal: three years for a total of $75 million. 

Geno Smith (2022 season)

Comp Pct



Pass Yards



Pass TD



Passer Rating



* Seahawks' single-season record

Their incredibly successful youth movement was also a huge reason for their success as Seahawks rookies combined to start 70 games this season, tied for the most by any playoff team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, tying the 2018 Indianapolis Colts.

Seattle had the rookie leader in starts, snaps played, rushing yards, forced fumbles and interceptions in 2022, meaning general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll can take a victory lap as they evaluate how well they cleaned up in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Seahawks' top six picks in 2022 NFL Draft


1 (9)

OT Charles Cross

17 starts*

2 (40)

DE Boye Mafe

3.0 sacks

2 (41)

RB Kenneth Walker III

1,050 rush yards*

3 (72)

OT Abraham Lucas

16 starts

4 (109)

CB Coby Bryant

4 forced fumbles*

5 (153)

CB Tariq Woolen

6 interceptions*

*Led or co-led all rookies in 2022

Their 2023 NFL Draft continued to fill in a number of critical positions of need up and down the roster with two first-round picks after reaching the playoffs. Seattle came away with Illinois All-America cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the fifth overall pick. He allowed the fewest yards/pass attempt allowed (3.0) as the primary defender in 2022, minimum 50 targets. They also landed Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who set the college football bowl game receiving yards record with 347 against Utah in the 2021 Rose Bowl.

The Seahawks spent the rest of the draft filling out their lines on both offense and defense with the exception of taking UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet in Round 2 (52nd overall), Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh in Round 7 and safety Jerrick Reed II in Round 6 (198th overall). Seattle will likely be one of 2023's most improved teams just as they were one of 2022's most improved teams. Their trio at receiver of Pro Bowlers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett plus Smith-Njigba and their punishing ground game led by Kenneth Walker could give Dallas some trouble. With three potent cornerbacks in Witherspoon, Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen, the Seahawks can match their personnel as well as any team could against San Francisco's abundant wealth at its skill positions. If Smith picks up right where he left off in 2022 in tandem with an evolving defense, Seattle could win its first NFC West crown since 2020. 

Los Angeles Rams 

Cooper Kupp
LAR • WR • #10
REC YDs812
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The Los Angeles Rams are in a similar spot in 2023 that they were in 2022: top heavy with stars like wide receiver Cooper Kupp (the 2021 NFL Offensive Player and Super Bowl LVI MVP), defensive lineman Aaron Donald (a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (his 52,082 career passing yards are the 11th-most all time). What's different is they're now without Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, after flipping him across the country to the Miami Dolphins, and 2022 free agent prize wide receiver Allen Robinson, following their move to trade him to the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason. 

With no first-round pick once again and minimal cap space, the Rams' only roster improvement tool was the 2023 NFL Draft, starting in Round 2. They came away with two Week 1 starters in rounds two and three, respectively: TCU consensus All-America offensive lineman Steve Avila and Tennessee All-SEC outside linebacker Byron Young

The path to the Rams becoming the 2023 NFC West champion is narrow, and it involves Stafford and Kupp connecting like it's 2021 when Kupp won NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. If that duo and Donald, on the other side of the ball, can remain healthy, there's a slim, but plausible chance at Los Angeles returning to a level it was at in three of head coach Sean McVay's first five seasons in charge: the division champions level.