NFL Division Preview: NFC West Predictions & Betting Picks – LA Rams Hard To Fault

Cooper KuppTraining camps are complete, the preseason games are in the books, and 53-man rosters are officially set. That means it is almost time to kick off another season in the NFL.

Starting today and continuing for the next seven days, USA Betting will be bringing you our preview and prediction for each of the NFL’s divisions. That’s eight divisions in eight days all leading up to opening kick-off on Thursday, September 8th when the Buffalo Bills take on the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. In advance of that potential Super Bowl matchup, this site is starting our 8 for 8 with the Rams’ home, the NFC West.

In the 2021-22 season, the Rams didn’t win the most games in the NFL, they didn’t even win the most games in the NFC. But no other team had to face such strong competition as LA did as the NFC West was the only division to have three teams record double-digit victories.

Those teams were the Rams (12-5), Arizona Cardinals (11-6) and San Francisco 49ers (10-7). All three of those teams made the playoffs, again making the NFC West the only division to send more than two teams to the postseason. The only NFC West team to miss out on the playoffs was the Seattle Seahawks, who at 7-10 were the best last-place team in the conference, and tied the Denver Broncos as the second-best last place team in the NFL.

While each offseason brings changes, you can expect the NFC West to still be competitive this year. Which team will win the division crown? You’ll have to watch and find out. But in the meantime, you can check out our preview’s predictions and betting picks for the division below.

LA Rams (+1200 to Win Super Bowl, +550 NFC, +130 NFC West)

When it comes to how the West will be won in 2022-23, the Rams hope to have a big say in that outcome. Los Angeles did lose a few key pieces from their Super Bowl-winning roster, namely, Robert Woods, Andrew Whitworth, Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller. Like any good team with deep pockets should, LA went to work to fill those gaps, bringing in Allen Robinson to complement triple crown stud, Cooper Kupp, and luring Bobby Wagner away from the Seahawks after Seattle cut the former eight-time Pro Bowler. Wagner is a huge defensive upgrade, who at 32, is still playing at a high level. In fact, he actually had his best season last year, recording a career-high 170 tackles. He has recorded at least 100 in each of his 10 seasons in the league.

There is so much more one can say about the Rams. They are a complete team. Perhaps not as complete as some other would-be Super Bowl hopefuls, but the entire package is there and so is the ability to put it together to win another ring. Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford proved to be a great coach/QB tandem and LA will be running that back along with running backs, Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson. While those two combined for a strong attack, LA thinks it can be even better, hiring a new RB coach this offseason to take things to the next level. It is hard to bet against a team with great talent at all major skill positions and I wouldn’t recommend doing it here.

Take the Rams to win the West, but be cautious of the conference and especially the Super Bowl. No team has won back-to-back titles in over 15 years.

San Francisco 49ers (+1600 Super Bowl, +750 NFC, +150 NFC West)

As a team hoping to dethrone the Super Bowl champions, the San Francisco 49ers didn’t exactly have the most inspiring offseason. In fact, their grad hovered from a C- to C+ by most experts: Basically, a little less average. The 49ers didn’t make any big splashes in free agency and only modestly filled holes caused by the departing Alex Mack, Raheem Mostert, Arden Key, and Jacquiski Tartt among others.

While the Niners did endeavor to solve issues in their secondary and special teams, the loss of three offensive linemen is a big one, and something that could be magnified by the team’s decision to keep the not-exactly-mobile Jimmy Garoppolo as signal caller. That’s something that certainly left some head-scratching in the Bay Area as opting to move forward without Garoppolo would have cleared approximately $17 million in much-needed cap space.

The 49ers enter 2022 as a team with potential, but also a team with a lot of question marks. Their best player, who just happens to be one of the league’s best players in Deebo Samuel, requested a trade at the beginning of the offseason. Whether Samuel opts to sit or play in hopes of getting his wish, that is something that will affect San Francisco no matter the scenario. Should the Niners manage to convince Samuel to stay, then he is someone they can rebuild a contender around. As it was, the team reached the NFC Championship last year, and it’s not that they got steamrolled by the Rams. In fact, San Fran had a great shot to win as they led 17-7 entering the fourth quarter.

However, where it seems the Rams took a step forward, or at the very least remained at their level from last year, it looks like the Niners may have taken a step back.

Arizona Cardinals (+4000 Super Bowl, +2000 NFC, +400 NFC West)

Much was made in the offseason about Kyler Murray’s ‘study the playbook’ clause in his new $230.5M extension from the Arizona Cardinals. The clause has since been rescinded, likely because it made headlines and not for the right reasons. But just the fact the Cardinals felt the need to put it in there says something about where they believe their franchise star is at. Either way, Arizona hopes to have locked up their guy and are optimistic he’ll continue to take strides. At times, Murray has shown absolute brilliance as a passer, putting his arm, one of the strongest in the NFL, on full display. But those flashes are few and far between. The Cardinals are on the precipice of being a contender in the NFC if Murray can become more consistent at the QB position.

Much like the Niners, the Cardinals didn’t really do much this offseason to inspire confidence they can compete with the Rams for the division title. In fact, ESPN gave their offseason the third worst grade of all NFL teams. Yikes. The team did at least make a splashy signing compared to the Niners when they traded for Marquise Brown, who just so happened to be Murray’s teammate in college. Brown will pair alongside DeAndre Hopkins in what could be one of the league’s better 1-2 wide receiver duos. There is a lot to like about this move as Brown’s trade could be as much about him as it is about elevating Murray.

Overall, Arizona didn’t do enough to fill the holes created by departures of some of their key players from last year’s 10-win season. They still have a chance to play the Rams competitively and maybe even compete for another wildcard, but they are no real threat to LA’s divisional chances.

Seattle Seahawks (+15000 Super Bowl, +8000 NFC, +2000 NFC West)

Those odds are lofty in the wrong direction for a reason. Seattle’s last great hope to return to the world-beating team they were in the 2010s vanished the same day franchise QB Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos, bringing average-at-best journeyman Drew Lock back in the deal.

To make matters worse, the Seahawks let Bobby Wagner walk right into the arms of a team they’ll have to face twice this season. Compound that with the fact Seattle will also face the 49ers twice, Cardinals twice, Wilson’s Broncos for their first game of the season, as well as 2021 playoff teams in the LA Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Kansas City Chiefs, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Seahawks match last year’s win total of seven.

The Seahawks have the third worst odds to win the Super Bowl, and one should expect them to at least be in the conversation for the first overall pick given their tough schedule. There is always next year, Seattle or maybe the year/s after that.