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Odds to Win the NFC West: Don’t Expect Any Surprises

The NFC West has been dominated by Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams the past two seasons, with them winning the division by three games last season and by two the previous year. They come into this season as a -180 favorite, looking to fend off the consistently consistent Seahawks, the 49ers, who are looking to progress in their rebuild, and the lowly Arizona Cardinals, who tore everything down and will restart for the second time in as many seasons.

The Rams are clearly the most talented of the four teams, but the NFL is known for parity and surprises — see the 2017 Rams, who came into the season at +1200 to win the division. With that said, the only team that has a realistic shot at dethroning LA is Seattle, so I’d advise against wasting your money on either the 49ers or Cardinals.

Here’s my thoughts on each NFC West squad entering the 2019 regular season (See more division previews in our NFL section):

Los Angeles Rams (-180)

You’ll hear a lot of jackasses throwing around the expression “Super Bowl hangover” when providing a clichéd analysis of the Rams for the upcoming season, but here’s the thing — there’s no such thing as a Super Bowl hangover and that’s just something uninformed people say to sound smart. Nine of the last 10 teams to lose in the Super Bowl went on to at least make the playoffs the following year, so let’s eliminate that narrative right away.

The Rams will bring back one of the league’s top offenses. They were one of just three teams to average over 30 points per game last season, which was an improvement over McVay’s rookie season as head coach. The big question mark will be around running back Todd Gurley’s knee and deservedly so after he broke down toward the end of last season and was limited to 35 rushing yards on 10 carries vs the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Let’s not overreact to more wear and tear on Gurley, though. As you’ll recall, they signed C.J. Anderson off the couch in December and he filled in admirably, and it’s fair to assume McVay will have a contingency plan at running back this season.

One concern, however, should be a Rams defense that allowed 27 or more points on eight occasions last season. Still, the offense should once again make up for that, especially in games within the division, where they’re on a tear, going 10-2 SU over the last two seasons.

Seattle Seahawks (+275)

Many had written off the Seahawks entering last season, predicting a severe decline, but to the surprise of many, they had their seventh straight winning season and made it back to the playoffs. Some familiar faces are off the roster with Earl Thomas headed to the Ravens and Doug Baldwin headed to retirement, but they’ve proven many times during the Pete Carroll era that they’re great at rebuilding on the fly without it impacting success.

Led by Russell Wilson, Seattle had one of the league’s better offenses last season, ranking seventh in points per game. Wilson posted career-best numbers for QB rating and touchdown passes while tying a career low in interceptions, but the real difference came on the ground, where the Seahawks led the league in rushing yards per game. This was a dramatic improvement from the year before and it’s fair to expect a similar result from Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.

They were a middle-of-the-pack team defensively, allowing the 14th-most yards per game and 13th-most points. There’s some definite room for improvement there that they may have addressed during the draft by picking up three defensive players in the first three rounds. Expect to see Seattle push for the division lead throughout the season but ultimately end up in a wild-card spot.

San Francisco 49ers (+550)

The 49ers’ 2018 season was a major bust thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo going down with an injury just three games in and that’s a major issue. Their hopes this year are once again tied to Garoppolo, even though he hasn’t really done a thing in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong — what we’ve seen from him has been decent, but we haven’t seen him do enough to anoint him as one of the NFL’s top QBs.

So, I’m not big on Jimmy G, or Kyle Shanahan for that matter, but they are piecing together a decent roster. The addition of Tevin Coleman adds great depth at running back and also gives the team a strong balance on offense. Also, Nick Bosa should be able to make an immediate impact on a defense that was in the top half of the league in both rushing and passing yards allowed.

Still, I feel the 49ers are another year away from contending and will struggle to win eight games. They’ll beat up on the Cardinals and maybe even get off to a strong start with their opening two games vs the Bucs and Bengals, but they’re once again looking at a third-place division finish.

Arizona Cardinals (+2500)

Arizona is coming off one of the more pathetic seasons in recent memory where they averaged a league-low 14.1 points per game, which paved the way to a 3-13 record. As a result, there was no messing around — they dumped first-year head coach Steve Wilks and sent Josh Rosen to Miami, opting to go with the flashy combo of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray.

They obviously have a lot of work to do, but I applaud the organization for realizing it wasn’t working and quickly and dramatically making the changes. Led by Kingsbury and Murray, the ceiling is the most exciting offense in the league. It’ll help that they’re in a division that’s devoid of elite defenses, but hitting that ceiling right out of the gate isn’t realistic.

Arizona is tied for the lowest O/U team win total with Miami at five and they’ll struggle to top that number. Expect to see some progress in the desert, but also expect to see the Cardinals be a punching bag through most of the season.

Odds to Win The 2019 NFC West
TeamOdds
Los Angeles Rams-180
Seattle Seahawks+275
San Francisco 49ers+550
Arizona Cardinals+2500

Odds as of July 12 at Bovada

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