SEAHAWKS

COACH: PETE CARROLL

Sixth season (50-30, .625)

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LAST SEASON: 12-4, won division, lost to New England in Super Bowl XLIX

OUTLOOK: The defending NFC champions were a yard away from winning a second straight Super Bowl, and then the ill-fated interception of Russell Wilson. Oh, so close. But don't think the Seahawks are ready to drop out of the Super Bowl equation just yet. No way. This team is far too talented, and there are far too many key players -- including offensive stars Wilson, RB Marshawn Lynch and OL Russell Okung, as well as defensive stalwarts Richard Sherman, Earl Watson, Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett -- to count out the Seahawks. In fact, they might still be the favorites to get back to the Super Bowl, as long as there is no long-lasting hangover from last season's disastrous finish.

CARDINALS

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COACH: BRUCE ARIANS

Third season (21-11, .656)

LAST SEASON: 11-5, second in division, lost to Carolina in wild-card game

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OUTLOOK: It's a testament to Coach of the Year Arians that he got the Cardinals into the playoffs last season, especially after starting QB Carson Palmer went down. They had no shot in the postseason with QB Ryan Lindley, but Palmer is back, and so is the optimism surrounding this team. Larry Fitzgerald is still an elite receiver, but it's the running game that poses the biggest challenge. Andre Ellington and newly signed Chris Johnson don't strike fear into opposing defenses.

RAMS

COACH: JEFF FISHER

Fourth season (20-27-1, .427)

LAST SEASON: 6-10, fourth in division

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OUTLOOK: This is an intriguing team now that Fisher has a decent quarterback in Nick Foles. The Rams were finished last year after Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury, but Foles is a capable player with a live arm. Fisher believes first-round RB Todd Gurley can be a franchise player now that his knee problems are almost fully behind him. The defense was strong last year, and there's no reason to believe Gregg Williams' unit can't be even better this season. Looking for a surprise playoff team? Rams are in the mix.

49ERS

COACH: JIM TOMSULA

First full season

LAST SEASON: 8-8, third in division

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OUTLOOK: What a mess that poor Tomsula inherits from Jim Harbaugh. The first-year coach saw a mass exodus even before training camp started, as Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Justin Smith, Frank Gore and a handful of others left town. This roster is a shell of the one that Harbaugh got to the Super Bowl when he lost to brother John Harbaugh in the 2012 season. Can't imagine they'll do much of anything this year.