The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the best teams in the league for some time now, and despite the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo, the oddsmakers are still backing them to top the NFC West once again.
The only team that looks set to challenge for the title are the Seahawks. Seattle finally have their quarterback situation sorted, but don't have the same roster depth as the ‘9ers. Meanwhile, the Rams and Cardinals have extremely long odds to win the division, with Arizona being right at the bottom of the table for Super Bowl contention.
Despite heavy favourites in the sportsbooks, there's no knowing how the season will go with plenty of changes in the division. So, today we're going to break down each team and their odds to win the NFC West.
NFC West Best Odds
|San Francisco 49ers
|Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers (-160)
The 49ers are favorites to win the NFC West with odds of -160 in the DraftKings sportsbook.
Despite earning the title of Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 draft, Purdy proved everyone wrong when he was forced to lead the offense after Garoppolo and Lance got injured. He passed for 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 67.1 percent completions - not bad for the last pick in the draft. There are still a few questions surrounding whether he can compete at the highest level, but if we're being honest, a good system QB is all it takes for '9ers to have a winning season.
This is largely down to the sheer amount of star power on their roster. Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle provide plenty of options in the offensive scheme. Meanwhile, the defense is highlighted by the likes of Javon Hargrave, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, Talanoa Hufanga, Charvarius Ward and the list goes on.
The biggest concern for San Francisco is the contract dispute with Nick Bosa, who is still yet to attend practice sessions, despite being only weeks away from the regular season. Bosa led the league in sacks last season and is undoubtedly one of the most dominated forces in the NFL. If they are unable to reach an agreement, it will be a considerable loss for the 49ers d-line. But despite how close it is to Week 1, I can't see Bosa standing on the sidelines while they suffer without him.
So, if Purdy is QB1 this season and Bosa is there for Week1, then the 49ers stand a good chance to top the division once again. Not to mention they have a top 5 easiest schedule according to Sharp Football Analysis.
Seattle Seahawks (+230)
The Seahawks have odds of +230 to win the 2023 NFC West in the BetRivers sportsbook.
Seattle could certainly be on the rise this season. Following a 9-8 record and second in the NFC West in 2022, the Seahawks may be ready to take things up a level. But it all depends on whether Geno Smith can live up to the expectations that surround him after signing a three-year, $75 million deal. It may have taken the 39th overall selection of the 2013 NFL Draft nearly ten years to look like the second-round draft pick that he is. Last season, Smith passed for 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions - earning the Comeback Player of the Year award.
This season, Smith will have the same key weapons surrounding him in the form of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, while 2023's 20th overall pick and top-rated receiver in the draft class Jaxon Smith-Njigba will back them up.
The defensive secondary should also be in good hands with Jamal Adams, Julian Love, and rookie Devon Witherspoon. The only concern is the line underperforming but if they can outdo their expectations then we could be looking at one of the premier defenses in the league.
So, Smith will be leading a talented roster after recording a very impressive season, while the defense should be able to hold their ground. It's not out of the question to see a Seahawks win total over 10. If they meet that prediction, they should be into the postseason and could even steal the division title.
Los Angeles Rams (+1000)
Los Angeles are at long odds of +1000 to win the division in the FanDuel sportsbooks.
Just two years after the Rams became Super Bowl champions, they have fallen to 25th in the odds to reclaim that title. After several roster changes and injuries all over the field, Sean McVay's side hit a wall last season.
Matthew Stafford missed the final 7 games, while star receiver Cooper Kupp battled a high-ankle injury that limited him to just 10 games. The offensive line took a huge step back, allowing Stafford to get sacked 29 times in only 9 games. Aaron Donald also didn't have his best year, recording just five sacks and 11 QB hits in the 11 games he played, putting him on track for a career low performance in both categories.
Despite this, there's no doubt the Rams still have a top-15 QB, a great WR and one of the best defensive players of all time, but what holds them back is the sheer amount of rookies that fill out the rest of the team. McVay is used to having talent all over the field, but now he'll have to work with a roster of young players without much pedigree. Not to mention that the loss of Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey, which will hurt the defense beyond measure.
So, the Rams have a few stars that will lead both sides of the ball, but they lack experience in so many of their starting spots that expecting them to compete for division title is almost out of the question.
Arizona Cardinals (+2700)
The Cardinals are bottom of the odds to win the division at +2700 in the bet365 sportsbook.
After a long period of disappointment in Arizona, a new era is set to begin under the guidance of head coach Jonathan Gannon. There's no doubt he's stepping into a team deep in its rebuilding phase, but there's always a team or two that surprises the league. So, will the Cardinals be one of them?
Well, it's very unlikely. They're coming off a 4-13 season, so expectations are not high. Kyler Murray is still questionable to return after suffering an ACL injury last year. We should see him on the turf at some point but a Week 1 appearance is not guaranteed and even if we do, his durability could be an issue especially behind a patchy o-line. If he fails to fully recover, we could see Colt McCoy or even 139th overall pick Clayton Tune take over, and in both cases expectations fall even lower.
After releasing star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins back in May, Marquise Brown will now take over as WR1, but he's already questionable to play following a thigh injury. He should be on the turf for the start of the regular season where he'll be backed up by Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch. This receiver corps isn't bad, but if Murray isn't the one in the backfield, don't expect to see big yardage in the passing game.
It's likely we'll see most of the heavy lifting done by James Connor. With a very lacklustre defense, the Cardinals need to kill the clock and play a possession game to get into the win column.
In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cardinals tank the season for a shot at picking Caleb Williams in the 2024 draft. The USC quarterback possesses the talent to quickly turn this offense around. That may only be half of the problem in Arizona, but it would be a step in the right direction.
The bottom line: The sportsbooks have this one right.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
The first thing to do is rule out the Rams and the Cardinals. Both rosters lack far too much depth to compete with the league's best right now and will almost certainly log losing records.
So, that leaves us with the Seahawks and 49ers. For me, it all comes down to the quarterback debate and the odds we're being offered.
San Francisco undoubtedly have more talent all over the field, but if Brock Purdy or Trey Lance can't put their weapons to good use, then the '9ers will have to rely on their stellar defense to rule the league once again. But we've already seen what happens when they lose their passing game - they put up just 7 points in a Conference Championship game.
Meanwhile, Geno Smith is coming off a career-best season that earned him Comeback Player of the Year. He's far more experienced than both Purdy and Lance and arguably has just as good of a receiver corps to work with. Kenneth Walker may not be Christian McCaffrey but has proved himself as a top-tier running back - ranking 12th in rushing yards last season. Meanwhile, their defense could certainly rank in the top 10 with a newly bolstered secondary.
It's tough to bet against the 49ers but at odds of -170, the wager is not appealing, especially when the Hawks winning the division is perfectly possible and they offer odds of +230. Geno Smith may just be starting to enter his prime and I'm betting on that possibility. Hawks to take the division.
Will Purdy lead the 49ers to another year atop the NFC West? Or has the Geno Smith era only just begun?
(Header Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff - USA TODAY Sports)
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