NFC West: 2014 NFL Nation season predictions

2014 Predictions: St. Louis Rams

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
8:00
AM ET
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ESPN.com St. Louis Rams reporter Nick Wagoner makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson destroyed the Rams the last time he visited St. Louis but the defense should be much improved, Craig Dahl no longer plays for the Rams and they should be able to score enough to start the season with a win. Prediction: Win


Week 2: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An early-season trip to Florida will provide quite a challenge in terms of heat and humidity after a mostly mild St. Louis summer. The Bucs look like they could be vastly improved and the Rams wilt late in the Florida sun. Prediction: Loss


Week 3: Dallas Cowboys

Dallas back DeMarco Murray will be a popular fantasy play this week given his recent success against the Rams, but this time should be different as the Rams head to the bye with a 2-1 record. Prediction: Win


Week 5: at Philadelphia Eagles

An absolutely brutal stretch of schedule gets off on the wrong foot, as the Rams can't keep up with the Eagles' high-octane offense. Prediction: Loss


Week 6: San Francisco 49ers

The nightmare of this matchup from prime time a year ago could be erased here but the 49ers find a way to pull this one out late. Prediction: Loss


Week 7: Seattle Seahawks

The Rams are a perennial headache for the Seahawks, especially at home, and that will be no different this time. But not having Sam Bradford at quarterback will again leave the Rams a play short of the upset. Prediction: Loss


Week 8: at Kansas City Chiefs

The Rams surprised many by blowing out a perceived AFC power on the road against Indianapolis last year. The Chiefs get a similar treatment. Prediction: Win


Week 9: at San Francisco 49ers

The Rams' first trip to Levi's Stadium ends like their last one to Candlestick: with a convincing loss. Prediction: Loss


Week 10: at Arizona Cardinals

Two trips out West in as many weeks with another tough opponent caps off the most brutal three-game stretch of the season with a close loss to the Cardinals. Prediction: Loss


Week 11: Denver Broncos

This game could be closer than it might look on paper considering how physical, aggressive teams give the Broncos problems. Ultimately, what could be Peyton Manning's final visit to St. Louis sends him back to Denver with a win. Prediction: Loss


Week 12: at San Diego Chargers

The losing streak reaches four games and the Rams officially hate the West Coast more than mid-'90s fans of the Notorious B.I.G. Prediction: Loss


Week 13: Oakland Raiders

The Rams come out on top in the battle of two teams most often speculated to move to Los Angeles. Prediction: Win


Week 14: at Washington Redskins

There will be much reminiscing about the infamous 2012 trade these two teams made in the week leading to this game but it's RG III's Redskins who win a close one. Prediction: Loss


Week 15: Arizona Cardinals

This is the Rams' best bet for a win in the division and they follow through by knocking off the Cardinals. Prediction: Win


Week 16: New York Giants

The Giants' retooled offensive line is no match for the group coached by Mike Waufle, the man who once led the Giants' defensive line to Super Bowl glory. Prediction: Win


Week 17: at Seattle Seahawks

Ending the season with a loss in Seattle has become something of an annual tradition. Prediction: Loss


Predicted Record: 6-10

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ESPN.com Arizona Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: San Diego Chargers

A late Monday night game is set up to benefit the home team. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will be the first quarterback to try to exploit Arizona's weakness at inside linebacker. After months of preparing, the Cardinals' defense will outmatch the Chargers' offense in their debut. Prediction: Win


Week 2: at New York Giants

Eli Manning could be the right recipe for the Cardinals to get their pass rush steadied, but coming off a short week and a cross-country road trip will be a challenge to the veterans, especially under the bright lights of New York City. Prediction: Loss


Week 3: San Francisco 49ers

Arizona will have a full week to prepare for the 49ers, and last season's Week 17 loss won't be far from the Cardinals' memories. The Niners will also be the Cards' first opportunity to face a top-tier tight end, for whom they drafted safety Deone Bucannon. Expect a lot of nickel and dime packages so the rookie can get his first taste of Vernon Davis. Prediction: Win


Week 5: at Denver Broncos

If there's one quarterback who can find Arizona's weaknesses on defense (inside linebacker and the pass rush) and exploit them, it's Denver's Peyton Manning. If there are two coaches who know Manning better than any duo in the league, it's Arizona's Bruce Arians and Tom Moore. It'll be a chess match. Prediction: Loss


Week 6: Washington Redskins

By Week 6, the Cardinals -- and the rest of the NFL -- will know which Redskins offense is showing up every week. Robert Griffin III will either keep wearing on a tired defense that would've faced four top-flight quarterbacks by then or he'll be a sight for sore eyes. Prediction: Win


Week 7: at Oakland Raiders

Carson Palmer gets his first crack at the Raiders on the field he despises. If he's not pumped for this game, Palmer won't be pumped for any this season. After five straight weeks of facing talented quarterbacks, the Cardinals' defense will finally get a reprieve. Prediction: Win


Week 8: Philadelphia Eagles

The Cardinals got down early last season in Philadelphia and nearly came back in the fourth quarter. If that happens this season, the Eagles might bury Arizona. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will be returning to the state in which he played his college football, and the Eagles might be running like a well-oiled machine in Year 2 under Chip Kelly by this point. Prediction: Loss


Week 9: at Dallas Cowboys

Like the Redskins, which Cowboys team shows up will decide who wins. But on the road at Dallas, in a stadium the team has never played in, the Cardinals will have to overcome more than football. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be in for a long day regardless, with either Patrick Peterson or Antonio Cromartie awaiting him on either side. Prediction: Loss


Week 10: St. Louis Rams

The Cardinals' offensive line will have nine weeks to jell before facing the Rams' fearsome defensive line for the first time. Lining up Andre Ellington out wide should neutralize the pass rush, while Arizona's pass rush should impact a Sam Bradford-less offense. Prediction: Win


Week 11: Detroit Lions

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson won't be able to take advantage of Peterson's size anymore with Cromartie now an option to guard him. With Johnson partially neutralized, the Lions' passing game won't be as effective. For the second straight week, however, the offensive line will have its hands full. Prediction: Win


Week 12: at Seattle Seahawks

The last time Arizona played at Seattle, the Cardinals broke the Seahawks' home winning streak. The weather could start turning by late November, and it will be Arizona's first outdoor game since mid-October. Prediction: Loss


Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons

Back indoors, the Cardinals' secondary will have its hands full with another stout quarterback-receivers tandem. But the second straight road trip, and a cross-country flight, doesn't bode well for another conference win. Prediction: Loss


Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs will provide a good tuneup for the Cardinals heading into a brutal final stretch of games, the main difference coming at quarterback: Defending Alex Smith is more like preparing for Palmer than Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. Kansas City will throw a tough defense and one of the top running backs at Arizona. Prediction: Win


Week 15: at St. Louis Rams

Another short week doesn't bode well for the Cardinals' veterans, but, with the second round of the NFC West beginning, the Cardinals will know what to expect. Arizona has lost all four of its Thursday night games, but this could be the one that ends that streak. Prediction: Win


Week 16: Seattle Seahawks

By this point the Super Bowl hangover will have set in, and the Cardinals will know how dire these last three games are. No matter how far removed from the playoffs they are, the Cardinals will play to win. Prediction: Win


Week 17: at San Francisco 49ers

The season finale could be the difference between making the playoffs or not for the Cardinals, but the same could be said for the Niners. Kaepernick, Davis and Frank Gore might be too much for a weary defense. Prediction: Loss


Predicted Record: 9-7 

ESPN.com San Francisco 49ers reporter Paul Gutierrez makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: at Dallas Cowboys

The 49ers' offense sleepwalked through most of the preseason as it worked out its kinks. Opening against the league's worst defense from a year ago should help with the fix. Prediction: Win


Week 2: Chicago Bears

A nationally televised night game to officially christen and present $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium will also do wonders for the 49ers' offense. The big question then is how the new sod reacts. Prediction: Win


Week 3: at Arizona Cardinals

A 2-0 start may be a recipe for a letdown, and the Cardinals will only be too happy to oblige. Even with DT Darnell Dockett lost for the year. Prediction: Loss


Week 4: Philadelphia Eagles

The 49ers rebound quickly from their first loss and respond angrily against the Eagles at home. Poor Nick Foles. Prediction: Win


Week 5: Kansas City Chiefs

Welcome to the house you helped build, Alex Smith. Kinda. Now, go ahead and get outta town. Prediction: Win


Week 6: at St. Louis Rams

There is always a game a team loses that it should win. On Monday night, against an ancient rival that is without its starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, this is the one. Prediction: Loss


Week 7: at Denver Broncos

Panic time? Peyton Manning picks apart the 49ers' secondary with aplomb and visions of that 34-0 exhibition victory by Denver don't seem so deviant. Prediction: Loss


Week 9: St. Louis Rams

Payback isn't just a James Brown classic. The bye came at a perfect time to regroup and refit. Prediction: Win


Week 10: at New Orleans Saints

The Saints are a different team at home. And simply too much on offense. Prediction: Loss


Week 11: at New York Giants

Another long roadie -- their fourth road game in six weeks -- proves to be more bountiful than their previous three. Eli Manning keeps throwing passes, and the 49ers keep picking them off. Prediction: Win


Week 12: Washington Redskins

The feel-good win in New Jersey gets the guys' minds right in Santa Clara. Which is bad news for the folks who play in Landover, Maryland. Prediction: Win


Week 13: Seattle Seahawks

The 49ers have had this one circled since April. And, yes, at home, they have Seahawk for Thanksgiving dinner. Prediction: Win


Week 14: at Oakland Raiders

They had to cancel the preseason series between these two Bay Area rivals because of fan violence in San Francisco. So what happens on Pearl Harbor Day in Oakland? Raiders give Niners a scare. Prediction: Win


Week 15: at Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has not been a nice place for the Niners, who have lost their past three games at CenturyLink Field by a combined score of 94-33. Make it four straight. Prediction: Loss


Week 16: San Diego Chargers

By this time, it will have been almost four months since the Chargers' first-team defense abused the Niners' starters on offense and Philip Rivers shredded the 49ers' first-team defense. These will be different teams now, right? Prediction: Win


Week 17: Arizona Cardinals

The 49ers will be in full stride now, either trying to wrap up the NFC West or a wild-card spot. At home, they are simply too much for the much-improved Cardinals to close out the regular season. Prediction: Win


Predicted Record: 11-5 

2014 Predictions: Seattle Seahawks

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
8:00
AM ET

ESPN.com Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: Green Bay Packers

All the pregame hype will center around the so-called Inaccurate Reception, the controversial Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate two years ago that won the game over the Packers at Seattle on a Monday night. Tate has moved on to Detroit, but the Seahawks now have too many weapons for the Packers to stop, no Hail Mary required. Prediction: Win


Week 2: at San Diego Chargers

The Chargers better hope they play a lot better than they did in the preseason game at Seattle, a 41-14 victory for the Seahawks on Aug. 15. San Diego will play better, but not good enough to beat a much better team. Prediction: Win


Week 3: Denver Broncos

The Broncos and their fans got a tiny bit of meaningless Super Bowl revenge in the preseason opener with a 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys. Repeating that outcome in Seattle is not an option. Prediction: Win


Week 5: at Washington Redskins

Traveling coast to coast to play on the road for a Monday night game is a tough task against any NFL opponent, and even tougher against quarterback Robert Griffin III. But the Seahawks catch a break in this one by coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare and be fresh for the journey. Prediction: Win


Week 6: Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave Seattle a little bulletin-board material last month when he said the Seahawks were to blame for the increase in penalty flags during the preseason. There won't be near enough flags against Seattle for the Cowboys to win this one. Prediction: Win


Week 7: at St. Louis Rams

Any division game in the NFC West is a rugged battle. The Rams have a defensive line that gave the Seahawks problems a year ago. But they aren't strong enough overall to beat Seattle, even at home in their out-of-date dome. Prediction: Win


Week 8: at Carolina Panthers

The Seahawks were fortunate to win the season opener at Charlotte a year ago. That Panthers team was better than this one, but back-to-back road games against very physical defensive teams will end the Seattle winning streak. Prediction: Loss


Week 9: Oakland Raiders

Coming off their first loss of the season and returning home against an outmanned opponent, is there any doubt? Prediction: Win


Week 10: New York Giants

The Seahawks easily defeated the Giants 23-0 last year in New Jersey, a dress rehearsal for their Super Bowl victory at the same location -- MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks won't need a rehearsal to roll past the Giants in this one. Prediction: Win


Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs

This likely will be a low-scoring game between two strong defensive teams. Odds are against any team that has to try to win by matching its defense against the Seahawks' D. Prediction: Win


Week 12: Arizona Cardinals

The last time the Cardinals played at CenturyLink Field was last December when they handed the Seahawks a 17-10 loss. That won't happen again unless the Seahawks get caught looking ahead to the 49ers game. The Seahawks don't look ahead. Prediction: Win


Week 13: at San Francisco 49ers

It's a Thanksgiving night, national TV game in the 49ers' shiny new stadium against the hated Seahawks. If San Francisco can't win this one, its time as a championship contender is over. Prediction: Loss


Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles

This is the toughest part of the season for the Seahawks with back-to-back road games against likely playoff contenders. But the 10 days between games will help and be enough of a cushion to keep Seattle from losing two in a row. Prediction: Win


Week 15: San Francisco 49ers

This is a game that could decide which team wins the NFC West. No way the Seahawks lose to the 49ers twice in three weeks, especially not in front of a rabid full house of 12s. Prediction: Win


Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals probably will be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Seahawks already will be in at 12-2. That difference will be just enough for Arizona to win at home in the same stadium where the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl a few weeks later. Prediction: Loss


Week 17: St. Louis Rams

For the second consecutive year, the Rams close the regular season in Seattle. And for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks will beat them without much trouble. Prediction: Win


Predicted Record: 13-3

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