2018 NFC West Divisional Futures Predictions
After previewing the AFC, we’re moving onto the NFC as we close in on the start of the NFL season. The NFC West has many storied franchises and Super Bowls over the years. There have been a lot of changes in the offseason for each of the four teams in this division.
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Betting Odds to Win the National Football Conference
- Arizona Cardinals +1400
- Los Angeles Rams -175
- San Francisco 49ers +300
- Seattle Seahawks +550
Arizona Cardinals +1400
The Cardinals moved on from Bruce Arians last season and brought in Steve Wilks. Wilks had an extensive background as a defensive coach and was the Panthers defensive coordinator in the 2017 season. Carson Palmer retired after another injury-plagued season, and the Cardinals selected Josh Rosen with the 10th overall pick in the draft.
Still, they signed Sam Bradford as a free agent in the offseason, and the oft-injured will open the season as the starter. Their receiving corps is among the weakest in the league. It’s a lot of speculative talent behind no. 1 wideout and future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona has plenty of issues on both sides of the ball. Their offensive line is projected to be one of the worst in the league. Their defense is below average. They’re in a tough division with several powerful offenses. It would be tough to see them improving on their 8-8 finish last season.
Los Angeles Rams -175
Second-year head coach Sean McVay returns to coach one of the most exciting teams in the NFL. The Rams were 11-5 season and project to be even better this season. Pinpointing a weakness for this team is hard. Their offensive line isn’t elite, but they’re still in the upper third of the league. Gone is receiver Sammy Watkins, but he’s been replaced by ex-Patriot, Brandin Cooks, to form an excellent trio combined with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
Defensively, the Rams are also stacked. They have the best defensive end in the game in Aaron Donald, who is reportedly close to ending his holdout. In the offseason, they acquired tackle, Ndamukong Suh, and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. They’re the firm favorite in this division for a reason.
San Francisco 49ers +300
The 49ers finished the season 6-10 last year for last in the division but rattled off five straight wins after making the change from Brian Hoyer to Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. Now the QB of the future for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, they look poised to improve on last year’s record.
On offense, Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin return. Gone is Carlos Hyde, but San Francisco did go out and get ex-Viking, Jerrick McKinnon, who had an excellent season last year and is an off the charts athlete. They also upgraded an already potent offensive line taking a rookie right tackle with the No. 9 pick in the draft and signing center, Weston Richburg.
The defense has been an issue for the 49ers for years now, but they did improve slightly last season, especially in the latter stages. Their strides should be even more significant this year after signing Richard Sherman from their division rivals. If their defensive lineman, that they invested in heavily in past years drafts can stay healthy this year – this defense may be a lot better.
Seattle Seahawks +550
The Seahawks are not far removed from their championship heyday, but those days are turning into a distant memory. They won the Super Bowl in 2014 and lost the Patriots on the final play of the game in the year after. However, there has been quite a shakeup when it comes to their roster. Gone are the days of the “Legion of Boom” with Sherman and several others gone and Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, not the players they once were. Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Jimmy Graham were all released or traded.
Pete Carroll is doing his best to turn things around (or at least shake things up), firing all six of his assistants and bringing in new offensive and defensive coordinators. A weak offensive line has plagued Seattle for years, and I can’t see based on this current roster how that’s going to improve. Making matters worse, they’re a run-first offense. Oh, and their top receiver, Doug Baldwin, expects his knee to be an issue, all season.
As I mentioned above, Seattle moved on from many of their past defensive stalwarts. They allowed a whopping 332 points in 2017. That was the most in their past seven seasons. Their secondary is far worse than it has ever been, and they have the weakest defensive back group of this division, by a large margin. They still have elite players at linebacker, with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, but that doesn’t make up for lack of talent on the defensive line. I still speculate if they can generate a consistent pass rush. Seattle doesn’t look like they’re going to improve on their 9-7 mark from 2017.
2018 NFC West Divisional Pick – Los Angeles Rams -175
Considering their talent and the issues that the other teams in the division have, most specifically, the Cardinals and Seahawks – I think the -175 on the Rams is a price with value. They’re not only stacked with talent at all positions, but their head coach knows how to utilize it. He’s already probably a top five coach in the league, and it’s only his second season. It’s not a shock that they are +900 to win Super Bowl LIII, just behind the New England Patriots.
The one team in this division I could see beating them out is the 49ers, but I still think they lack the talent to compete with the Rams. Jimmy G may not have the success he did last season as defenses and in-division opponents adjust to his strengths and weaknesses and the 49ers game planning. However, I wouldn’t hate a gamble on the 49ers at +300.
I truly believe Seattle may be one of the worst teams in the NFC. They’re a run-first offense with no offensive line, a no. 1 receiver with a bum knee, and a defense that is short on talent and high on past expectations. Arizona may finish higher than them in this defense, and they have a host of problems of their own.
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