NFC West: Most important players for each team going forward

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter
NFC West / AFC West

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

One of the most common things I see on social media are arguments between fans about who is the most important player on a team. Is it the franchise quarterback? Is it the leader on defense? Is it the coach? It seems only fitting that with today being Russell Wilson‘s birthday, that we should take a look at this question inside the NFC West.

Going into week 13, two teams stand heads and tails above the other two, and above most teams in the NFC. When looking at all four franchises, there seem obvious answers to the question I posed above, but is it really so cut and dry? I’m not so sure.

The San Francisco 49ers (10-1) are on top of the NFC West and the entire NFC. They played an amazing game against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, giving the Pack a thorough beat down, for lack of a better word. As they head into a very tough section of their schedule, who must the team lean on to keep this team on track?

Defensively they are one of the best teams in the league, and a lot of praise must be heaped on the defensive ends. In my opinion, they are the most important players going forward. Arik Armstead has been so good this year, with 10 sacks. Nick Bosa, the rookie superstar, is a huge factor in every game, with 8 sacks and 16 QB hits. This kind of production will be key over the next two games as they face the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints.

This isn’t to disregard QB Jimmy Garropolo. He’s played well. However, with the teams they will be facing through week 17, the defense, especially these very talented players, will be of utmost importance.

*Editors note: According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, Dee Ford has a chance to play in week 13. He has been out with an injury. This would greatly boost SF’s pass rush.*

The Seattle Seahawks (9-2) sit in second place in the NFC West, and after the Thanksgiving Day games, have the third-best record in the NFC behind only the 49ers and Saints (10-2). While every week will be of vital importance in the NFC West given how close the top two teams are, the upcoming Monday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings is huge. A win will keep them in pace with, and maybe even overtake, the top spot in the NFC West.

This is probably the easiest pick of all four teams, but it is without question that QB Russell Wilson is the most important player to the Seahawks and possible MVP of the league. Seattle’s defense, with the additions of Jadeveon Clowney and Quandre Diggs, has surged over the last few games, it’s still not at the level it once was. It will be on Wilson’s shoulders to keep this team in every single game, to carry the team, and he’s proven over and over that he can do just that.

The Los Angeles Rams (6-5) are the surprise team of the NFC West, and not in a good way. Do the words Super Bowl Hangover mean anything to you? It has been frustrating to see the breakdown of this team over the first 12 weeks, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They play the Dallas Cowboys and all 3 of their divisional opponents, including the Cardinals twice, before the end of the season. There is a path to a winning season there.

Head coach Sean McVey, and the way he guides this team will be the determining factor for the Rams to get to a winning season. Defensive tackle, and 2x DPOY, Aaron Donald is doing his job. 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, all while constantly being double and tripled teamed? The Rams can’t ask more from him. The offense, well it’s not good. It will be completely up to coaching to keep this team focused, hungry, and fighting for wins. McVey was dubbed a wonder kid over the last few seasons. Let’s see if he can that guy when the wins are hard to find.

Sitting at the bottom of the NFC West is the Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1). Everyone knew this would be a rebuilding year, and that’s exactly what we’ve gotten. They beat teams they should have, lost to teams who were on top of their game, and stayed competitive in games no expected them too. There is a lot to be positive about in Arizona.

Looking at this team, the focus needs to be on two players, QB Kyler Murray and cornerback Patrick Peterson. For Murray, proving he is continuing to grow and learn will build a lot of confidence heading into the 2020 season. He has made huge gains this season, proving that rebuilding in a short amount of time is possible.

As for Peterson, he becomes a most important player in another way…leadership. In his press conference on Thursday, he said the Cardinals hadn’t approached him about his contract yet, but that he hopes they will keep the majority of the team together. His attitude on and off the field is vital. If he plays his best and can keep positive off the field, he shows the other players that this team isn’t one to give up on. That is the kind of leader they need on defense.

What are your thoughts on the Most Important Players in the NFC West going forward? I’d love to hear them!

Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG
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