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Around The NFC West - Week 1

A look at the Cardinals' division opponents as they prepare to start the season

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Wide receiver Anquan Boldin is one of the few key players still in San Francisco as Jim Tomasula's tenure as coach starts with the 49ers.


After a long offseason, the first game week has finally arrived. The Cardinals will begin their 2015 regular season at home on Sunday against the Saints. As always, the team's first goal is the NFC West crown. Here is a look at their divisional opponents as they also prepare for the opener.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

First up: The 49ers host the Vikings in Week 1 on Monday Night Football

Roster update: San Francisco had one of the more surprising NFL cuts when it released former Cardinals star Darnell Dockett before he played a game for the team. The 49ers gave the veteran defensive tackle a two-year, $7.25 million contract this offseason and suffered a cap hit of $2 million without a return. One player who did make the team was former rugby star Jarryd Hayne, who had an impressive preseason running the ball and on special teams.

Season forecast: There have been plenty of words written about the potential demise of the 49ers. The common belief is that San Francisco lost too many pieces to remain competitive this season. The new-look roster will have a national audience for its opener against an up-and-coming Minnesota team, as fans will get a glimpse of what they may be able to expect in 2015. The 49ers finished 8-8 last season after three consecutive trips to the NFC championship game, and a dip under .500 this year wouldn't be a shock after so many key personnel losses.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

First up: The Seahawks travel to play the Rams in Week 1

Roster update: Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor continues to hold out in hopes of getting more money, but neither side has budged thus far. If he stays away, he will begin losing game checks and Seattle will be without a star on defense, so this is a crucial time period in the negotiations. On the offensive side of the ball, the Seahawks signed Fred Jackson as a backup for Marshawn Lynch at running back and traded away running back Christine Michael to the Cowboys. As long as Lynch stays healthy, both are minor moves.

Season forecast: The Seahawks would surely like to get the Chancellor situation resolved before the opener, but regardless of when he returns, it's still a Super Bowl-quality roster. The Seahawks made waves by trading for tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason, and it will be interesting to see how he fits into an offense that has been reliant on the running game the past couple seasons. Seattle started slowly last year before putting it all together down the stretch. It would prefer a faster start in 2015.

ST. LOUIS RAMS

First up: The Rams host the Seahawks in Week 1

Roster update: First-round pick Todd Gurley continues to make progress in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL, but won't play in the season opener. His return and subsequent productivity will be one of the top storylines in St. Louis throughout the season. With starting running back Tre Mason also injured, third-stringer Benny Cunningham will likely get the bulk of the carries against the formidable Seattle defense.

Season forecast: The last time the Seahawks were in town, the Rams pulled off a shocking upset. While St. Louis had a few signature wins against NFL powers last year, a poor offense resulted in a 6-10 season. The team is hoping to be less of a scrappy underdog and more of a legitimate contender in the division in 2015. The defense could be one of the league's best, led by a monster defensive line. With Nick Foles under center and Gurley working his way back, there is optimism about an offensive turnaround in 2015. That will be the biggest key, as the Rams have to find a way to score points consistently to take pressure off the defense.



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