With attention turning to the NFC West, our preview series heads to the final division in the NFL. Did we save the best for last? Maybe not, but at the very least the NFC West, which consists of the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, is perhaps the most intriguing.
This is the biggest toss-up division with many split between the Seahawks, Rams and even the 49ers as potential champs. Let’s break down the division, with our preview, picks and predictions, that unlike its AFC counterpart, really could be the wild, wild NFC West.
Los Angeles Rams (+1200 to Win Super Bowl; +550 NFC; +190 NFC West)
In the 2020-21 offseason, the Los Angeles Rams made a franchise-altering decision, opting not to move forward with QB Jared Goff, who seemed to have a rift with head coach Sean McVay. In exchange for Goff, the Rams traded with the Detroit Lions to bring Matthew Stafford to LA.
While Goff’s trade to Detroit almost feels like a punishment, Stafford’s to the Rams is like a breath of fresh air. Stafford entered the league over a decade ago, the prize to a Lions’ team that went winless. He has been nothing short of solid in that entire time and many believe that had he been given a stronger supporting cast, that the Lions could have done something other than languish in mediocrity.
In LA, that theory will be tested as Stafford will enter 2021-22 with his best roster since the Calvin Johnson days in Detroit. Where the Rams made strides, there are also reasons for concern. The team is dealing with a lot of coaching turnover, including their defensive coordinator. The talent is there for this team still to be a top-10 group on that side of the ball but coaching changes can always be unpredictable.
No denying that the Rams are a good team but they have an incredibly tough division to get through which makes their status as top contender a little more vulnerable than the other divisions we’ve covered.
San Francisco 49ers (+1300 Super Bowl; +550 NFC; +175 NFC West)
Much like the Rams, the San Francisco 49ers are looking to win and win now. Their offseason was testament to that as they may have gone out and gotten their QB of the future in Trey Lance. Many good teams are only one good quarterback away from being great and the 49ers certainly fall under that category.
Jimmy Garoppolo, when healthy, is a solid signal caller but he has sat more games than he’s played in his 49ers tenure and that has hamstrung San Francisco’s playoff chances of late. Should Lance pan out, the days of the dominant 49ers may not be too far removed.
Defensively, San Fran boasts a top squad led by Nick Bosa, and new head coach Demeco Ryans. Ryans was a great player in his day so it will be interesting to see how he can coach this group of talented men. The 49ers certainly have as good a chance as anyone else (not named the Arizona Cardinals) in the West, to take home the ultimate prize. Their schedule is tough, especially on the road, but there is real reason to believe the 49ers can make the transition from good to great this year.
Seattle Seahawks (+2200 Super Bowl; +1200 NFC; +280 NFC West)
Long considered the favorites of the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks enter 2021-22 with one of its best teams in quite some time. The offseason focused on the conversation of what would happen in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, but meanwhile, a semi-similar situation was brewing in Seattle around Russell Wilson.
Now in his 10th year in the league, Wilson has seen the Seahawks undergo some decent changes, not all for the better. Defensively, this group is far removed from its dominant days as Bobby Wagner is the lone remaining member of the feared Legion of Boom that helped bring the Seahawks several NFC championships as well as a Super Bowl in 2014.
In the ensuing years since, the Seahawks have stayed at or around the top of the NFC West, winning at least 10 games in five of the last six seasons. This includes last year, when Seattle won 12 games, second only to the Green Bay Packers and tied with the New Orleans Saints for second most in the NFC. The Seahawks can certainly be juggernauts if all goes well and if Wilson continues to put up MVP numbers like he has of late.
Arizona Cardinals (+3500 Super Bowl; +1800 NFC; +575 NFC West)
As far as bottom dwellers ago, the Arizona Cardinals aren’t all that bad. The team has one of the top young quarterbacks in the league in Kyler Murray and a defense that looks to be much improved with the acquisition of JJ Watt.
The Cardinals will no doubt be competitive but will they be good enough to contend with such a tough division? It’s hard to say. The Cardinals played the West tough last year, defeating Seattle and San Francisco once, and playing close one-score games in their other meetings. It was only the Rams that the Cardinals couldn’t quite figure out. It’s tough to peg Arizona because they have these flashes of greatness, times where the air raid offense works out and Murray looks like the best signal caller in all of the football.
Those flashes are few and far between and Arizona is largely inconsistent. The bottom is a tough place to be, but in the NFC West, it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. Arizona is on their way to something great, they just aren’t there yet.
Our Preview’s NFC West Predictions Conclusion & Betting Picks Verdict
Of all the divisions, this one is the toughest to peg. Wilson and the Seahawks feel like the prohibitive favorites but Vegas is rocking with Stafford and the Rams. Personally, I’m high on Stafford and definitely think the change of scenery will do him wonders. But it is definitely bordering on too close to call. Don’t even be surprised if the 49ers challenge for the crown. But since we can pick only one, our choice is to take the Seahawks and Wilson’s track record, if only for one last time. So the verdict of this preview is this betting pick prediction:
- Bet Seattle to win the NFC West @ best odds of +280 with Bovada.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.