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Rams Favored To Win First NFC West Crown Since 2003

It has been a very long time since the Los Angeles Rams franchise has been even remotely respectable. The franchise has not had a winning season since 2003 and has not made a postseason appearance since 2004. 

However, things are much different this season. The Rams are 8-3 after their first 11 games and sit atop the NFC West. However, they still need to fend off the perennial top team in the conference, the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks sit just one game behind the Rams and won the first meeting between the two franchises earlier this year. That being said, a lot has changed since that Week 5 encounter. The Rams defense has found its stride under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips while the Seahawks have had several injuries decimate a once-vaunted secondary.

With both the Rams and Seahawks playing similar schedules to close out the remainder of the regular season, there is a very real chance that their head-to-head matchup in Week 15 ultimately decides the division winner. At one point in time, that would have spelled certain doom for the Rams, as that meeting comes in the Emerald City. However, the Seahawks are just 3-2 at home this season while the Rams are 4-1 on the road.

Though many are ready to anoint the Rams the kings of the division, the margin between them and the Seahawks is razor-thin. Yes, the Rams score more points, allow fewer points and are dealing with fewer injuries – but we have seen the Seahawks turn their game up to eleven come November and December many times in recent history.

Odds to Win 2017 NFC West DIVISION
Los Angeles Rams-200
Seattle Seahawks+150

Odds as of November 30 at Bovada

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There is no doubt that the Los Angeles Rams are a team trending in the right direction. Despite having the second-youngest roster in the NFL, the Rams are 5-2 after seven weeks and have the top scoring offense in football. But, to be the man you need to beat the man.

The L.A. Rams are +150 to win the NFC West, still a considerable underdog to the Seattle Seahawks, who are -225. Surely, it would be different had the Rams been able to top the Seahawks when they met in Week 5. But with a brutal second half of the season – including road games vs the Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans and Seahawks – it is fair to wonder if the Rams’ prolific offense will be sustainable.

Despite some miscues early in the season, Seattle is winning football games. The Seahawks do not always make it easy on themselves thanks to an offense that sits near the bottom in the NFL but their defense keeps them around until Russell Wilson can bail them out. After winning the NFC West in three of the past four seasons, it is somewhat hard to doubt that the Seahawks won’t rectify their issues and put it together come November and December.

The Arizona Cardinals are coming in at a whopping +4000 to win the division. The Cards are mathematically still in the hunt but without David Johnson or Carson Palmer, it likely won’t be long before that is not the case.

And about the San Francisco 49ers … Saquon Barkley looks really good.

Odds to Win 2017 NFC West DIVISION
Seattle Seahawks-225
Los Angeles Rams+150
Arizona Cardinals+4000

Odds as of October 26 at Bovada


The Seattle Seahawks look like the class of the NFC West once again. The ’Hawks strolled their way through the division again in 2016 and are just one of two teams in the NFL to play at least one playoff game in each of the past five seasons. 

The Seahawks find themselves listed as a -275 favorite to win the NFC West for a second consecutive year, making them the biggest faves to win any division that isn’t home to the New England Patriots.  

Aside from clearly having the most talent in the NFC West, the Seahawks also play in one of the most difficult stadiums to travel to. In the past five seasons, the Seahawks are 34-6 at CenturyLink Field with an average scoring margin of plus-12.2 points per game. Hell, the last time the Seahawks had a losing record at home came in 2008 when the team featured the likes of Seneca Wallace, Julius Jones and Lofa Tatupu.

Yes, the Seahawks should win the division but they could easily manage to mess it all up if they don’t fix their offensive line. The ’Hawks ranked 26th in run blocking and 25th in pass blocking last season. We already watched Seattle’s offense stall without Russell Wilson last season but if he continues to get hit and injuries pile up, the Seahawks could fall from grace quickly.  

And the Arizona Cardinals (+300) will be there waiting.

The Cardinals went from Super Bowl aspirations to a bleak realization that their window is closing rapidly after going just 7-8-1 in 2016. Carson Palmer will be back once again to lead the offense but he is 37 and coming off a season in which he struggled with injuries. Bruce Arians and company also watched several key players on the defensive side leave and will need to replace five starters. That being said, the Cardinals’ season likely rests on Palmer’s aged shoulders.

Then we have the Los Angeles Rams (+1200) and San Francisco 49ers (+1800). Both teams are coming off disastrous seasons, feature rosters that are devoid of talent, have liabilities at quarterback and have first-time head coaches at the helm. The Rams appear to have more potential at the moment with the likes of Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald on the roster but both LA and San Fran aren’t likely to be in the NFC West conversation.

Odds to Win 2017 NFC West DIVISION
Seattle Seahawks-275
Arizona Cardinals+300
Los Angeles Rams+1200
San Francisco 49ers+1800

Odds as of September 1 at Bovada

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It’s just about the halfway point of the 2016 NFL season and we’ve already seen two games end in ties. The two teams who played in the first draw of the year – the Seahawks and Cardinals – are basically the only teams left standing in the fight for the NFC West crown.

Bovada updated its lines for the NFL division futures and has pegged the 'Hawks with a -350 line to reclaim the NFC West title from the Cardinals, who counter back at +350.

In my opinion, this is still a two-dog race between Arizona and Seattle – like most thought it would be at the beginning of the season – and I also believe it will be a closer one than sportsbooks are guessing.

The Seahawks have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NFL and the key cog in their success, Russell Wilson, is not even close to being at 100 percent health right now. Through seven games, Seattle’s signal-caller has his worst career QBR (50.6) and is just the 13th-most efficient quarterback in the league. Since coming into his own as the Seahawks’ No. 1, he had not posted a QBR under 70 and was actually the third-most efficient QB in the league last year. Seattle’s entire offense hinges on the mobility of Wilson and his ability to keep opposing defenses on their heels. With his multiple injuries and Seattle's complete lack of a rushing attack, the offense has become one-dimensional and predictable. Wilson is not a good enough pocket passer to lead this team to a division crown on his arm alone.

Nothing has disappointed me more than what the Cardinals have – not – been able to achieve this year. I touted them at the start of the year as my favorite team to win the Super Bowl. One thing I did not predict, however, was that Carson Palmer would spontaneously combust and fall off a metaphoric cliff. The defense has been as good as advertised even with a not totally healthy Honey Badger and I’m still holding out hope that Palmer can find a shade of the quality he played with all last season. If he can do that, this team could still roll. Arizona still has some of the most versatile offensive weapons in the league and possesses the fourth-most efficient defense.

Although they sit a game and a half back of the Seahawks for first in the West right now, the Cards could easily make up that gap in an NFL season that has been as unpredictable as you could ask for.

2016 NFC West Champion

Odds as of November 3 at Bovada

  • Seattle Seahawks -350
  • Arizona Cardinals +350
  • Los Angeles Rams +1000


After the division was dominated by the Seahawks and 49ers since 2010, the Cardinals took a turn as division champs in 2015. This season, the division features two legit Super Bowl threats in the Seahawks and Cardinals, along with the rebuilding Rams and 49ers who will compete to stay out of the division’s basement.

Odds to win the division are tight with the Seahawks favored at -110 and the Cards not far off at +140. Both teams are in the top eight for the hardest schedule this season based on 2015’s results, but it’s the Cardinals who might have the edge over their division rival when analyzing each team’s schedule. Both teams hit the East Coast for a handful of games, but Arizona gets a big break in Week 1 when they host a Patriots team who will be without suspended QB Tom Brady. The Seahawks won’t get this luxury, as they travel to New England for a game in Week 10. This could be the deciding factor in what should be a close race.

The LA Rams went 7-9 last season but finished on a strong note, winning three of their last four games. They also had the Seahawks’ number, winning both games against them. That’s no excuse to jump on their +750 odds to win the division though as the Case Keenum – Jared Goff QB competition doesn’t exactly put fear in the hearts of the rest of the division. They haven’t won the division since 2003 and that trend will continue this season.

San Francisco is a distant +2000, which has them tied with the Browns for the longest odds in division futures markets. Chip Kelly will call the shots for a team that will try to improve on a 5-11 record last season, but it won’t be easy out of the gate as they travel to Carolina in Week 2 followed by a game in Seattle in Week 3. They won just one game within the division last season and will likely be kicked around again by Seattle and Arizona. If you’re considering placing a bet on them to win the division, stop and quit gambling on sports… and maybe stop watching sports altogether.

2016 NFC West Champion

Odds as of August 16 at BetOnline

  • Seattle Seahawks -110
  • Arizona Cardinals +140
  • Los Angeles Rams +750
  • San Francisco 49ers +2000


The NFC West is a division of have and have nots. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are both legitimate NFC title contenders while the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are likely a year away from being anything more than competent.

The Seahawks have opened as a -135 odds on favorite to win the NFC West next season with the Cardinals coming in at +140. Either the Seahawks or the Cardinals have won the division banner in each of the past three seasons with the other gaining a wild card berth the past two years.

There has not been many major roster changes this offseason for the Seahawks, but they will need to deal with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch. However, Lynch finished behind Thomas Rawls and Russell Wilson in rushing yards for the team last season.

The Cards are in much of the same position as the Seahawks with very little roster turnover during the offseason. Arizona may have added one of the best talents in the NFL draft in Robert Nkemdiche who could help bolster a rather pedestrian pass rush last year.

The Rams have plenty of quality players with their defense and Todd Gurley leading the way. If Jared Goff is a revelation than they could surprise people, but getting past both the Seahawks and Cards isn’t very likely. The 49ers will likely be starting Blain Gabbert…so that’s all you need to know.

2016-17 NFC West Champion

Odds as of May 6 at BetOnline

  • Seattle Seahawks -135
  • Arizona Cardinals +140
  • Los Angeles Rams +1000
  • San Francisco 49ers +2500