How Will The NFC West Shake Out
Somewhat surprisingly, the NFC West has become the premier division in the NFL as no team in the division has a losing record. All four teams are still currently in the race, and even though the Arizona Cardinals are distant fourth, they’re improving every week and simply cannot be ruled out at this point. Thus far, the odds favor the San Francisco 49ers, though neither of the Seattle Seahawks or Los Angeles Rams are far behind. Here’s the standings through seven weeks:
San Francisco 49ers (6-0)
The 49ers have shocked nearly everyone with how talented they are, leading to an undefeated 6-0 record. The 49ers lead the entire conference so far, and are second in the league in net points with a +92 mark. The passing offense hasn’t fully clicked yet, though they’re operating on the strength of an incredible ground game, as well as one of the best defenses in football. The 49ers have the Carolina Panthers next on the schedule, and are favored by -5.5 as they’re playing at home. The Panthers are a solid team coming in on a four-game winning streak, posing a tough opponent for the NFC’s only undefeated team.
Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
Death, taxes, and the Seahawks remaining relevant. The Seahawks are coming off a tough loss to the Baltimore Ravens, though they remain a game up from the Rams (as well as hold the tiebreaker) and 1.5 games back from the 49ers. Quarterback Russell Wilson is likely the favorite for the MVP award so far, playing absolutely brilliant football. The Seahawks have the Falcons next on the schedule, traveling to Atlanta to take on the team that just got obliterated 37-10 by the divisional rival Rams. The NFC West looks to be a three-team race.
Los Angeles Rams (4-3)
The Rams have yet to fully hit their stride, though the trade for cornerback Jalen Ramsey suggests they believe they’re right on the cusp. The Rams sit in a distant third spot due to losses to both the 49ers and Seahawks, but they’ve got a chance to rectify that later in the season. The Rams are in the midst of an easy three-game stretch against the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh Steelers. They also have their bye week sandwiched in there. Going into Week 8, the Rams are a massive favorite over the Bengals as a -13 favorite on the spread. With the Rams beginning to hit their stride while also looking revitalized by the addition of Ramsey, it may be wise to pick the boys from the West in London.
Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1)
The Cardinals are not likely to threaten for the NFC West crown nor the playoffs, though they’ve impressed as they sit with a .500 record through eight weeks. The most impressive part is the fact that they’re competing this quickly, under the reigns of first-time Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. The team still needs major improvements across the offensive line and defense, but they’re competing, and that’s all you can ask for at this point. The Cardinals have the Saints next on the schedule, and enter the game as +9.5 underdogs on the road.
The division is a tight battle right now, and it won’t get any easier for any of the teams moving forward. As it stands, the 49ers hold the lead, though they’re just entering the toughest part of their schedule and could begin to drop some games. My guess is the Rams will be able to climb to the top of the NFC West, with the 49ers trailing them in second and the Seahawks in third, with the potential for all three teams to enter the playoffs.