Bradley McDougald (30) and Seattle Seahawks open the 2019 NFL season Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. (Photo by Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

Bradley McDougald (30) and Seattle Seahawks open the 2019 NFL season Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. (Photo by Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

POLL: Where will the Seahawks finish in the NFC West?

Can Seattle pass the Rams? Will the Seahawks be caught by the 49ers or Cardinals?

The time has arrived. Preseason is over. Initial 53-man rosters have set. The 2019 NFL season is ready to begin.

The Seattle Seahawks open their 44th season Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. They do so with several familiar names returning (Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner), while other familiar names have departed (Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin), and one big name arrived at the last minute (Jadeveon Clowney).

So how will the Seahawks fare this season?

For the most part, Seattle had a relatively calm offseason. The two biggest issues were whether the Seahawks could get Wilson, the team’s franchise quarterback, and Wagner, the teams’ star middle linebacker, tied down long term. The pair were entering the final year of their contracts, and the Seahawks managed to get both signed to extensions.

There was also the loss of top pass rusher Frank Clark as he was traded to Kansas City in a cost-savings measure. But that issue was addressed the past weekend when Seattle stole Clowney from the Houston Texans, in large part because Clowney was holding out to force Houston’s hand.

Therefore, the Seahawks look a lot like the same team that went 10-6 and earned a wild card playoff berth last season.

Looking around at various betting sites, the general consensus has the Seahawks predicted to win around 8.5 games, and the odds for winning the Super Bowl have Seattle squarely in the middle of the pack. I’m not sure whether these projections have been updated since the Clowney trade.

So where does it all put Seattle in the race for the NFC West? Last season there was a distinct split between the haves and the have nots in the division. The Los Angeles Rams were one of the best teams in the league, going 13-3 and reaching the Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Patriots. The Rams and the Seahawks both had good seasons, while the San Francisco 49ers (4-12) and Arizona Cardinals (3-13) did not.

This year could be a different story. The Rams are again thought to be the class of the division, while the 49ers, who lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for most of last season because of a knee injury, have Garoppolo back, meaning people expect San Francisco to be better. There are fewer expectations for improvement from the Cardinals, though it will be interesting to see what kind of difference quarterback Kyler Murray, the first-overall pick in this year’s draft, will make.

So where do the Seahawks ultimately fall in the NFC West standings? Make your prediction here:

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