Divisional breakdown: NFC West

Divisional breakdown: NFC West
July 7, 2013, 9:30 am
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 AFC West

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 NFC West 

 NFC South

 NFC East

 NFC North 

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Divisional breakdown: NFC West

How they’ll finish: 49ers, Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals

Best rivalry: 49ers vs. Seahawks.

This has quickly morphed into one of the NFL’s most contentious battles. The 49ers and Seahawks could be the NFC’s two best teams, and from the coaches to the players, they love going at each other.

Best newcomer to division: Percy Harvin, Seahawks wide receiver

Harvin is a unique, multi-talented player who adds a different dimension to Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks will utilize Harvin as a wide receiver, a slot receiver, in the backfield, and as a kick returner. Having a weapon like Harvin makes it even harder to envision a sophomore slump for quarterback Russell Wilson.

Best newcomer to division II: Anquan Boldin, 49ers wide receiver

Boldin could be the most difficult player for the Ravens to replace. His importance to the 49ers was magnified when wide receiver Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon this offseason. Not only did he lead Ravens receivers in receptions (65) and yards (921), Boldin was Joe Flacco’s go-to target in the clutch. Boldin could fill that same role for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Best rookie: Tavon Austin, Rams wide receiver

Austin has Harvin-like versatility, with blazing speed and the ability to make would-be tacklers miss. Sam Bradford needed someone like this. The Rams are improving rapidly under second-year coach Jeff Fisher.

Best player in a tough situation: Larry Fitzgerald

The Cardinals had brutal quarterback play last season, wasting Fitzgerald’s talents. Bringing in Carson Palmer at quarterback is an upgrade, and new head coach Bruce Arians has a creative offensive mind. Unfortunately for the Cardinals and Fitzgerald, escaping the basement of this division looks highly unlikely. Fitzgerald turns 30 in August and wants to win a Super Bowl before he is done. That will not happen next season.