NFC West Odds: Betting the Exact Order After Free Agency
NFC West Odds: Betting the Final Order After Free Agency
The league-wide free agent and trade frenzy probably isn't over, but as the dust settles and the calendar dives further into April, the month of the draft, it's come time to do some preliminary evaluations around where teams stand. This is not only the case for overall power rankings, either.
The race is all the way on for this year's division chases, and as a result, DraftKings went ahead and dropped betting odds on how each of the eight divisions could shake out. Odds are listed for each of the exact scenarios, listing the division winner at the top through the last-place finisher in fourth.
Let's dive into the NFC West and what it could ultimately look like at the season's end.
Top 5 Scenarios of NFC East Odds After Free Agency
|NFC West Exact Order||Odds|
|1st LA Rams/2nd SF 49ers/3rd ARI Cardinals/4th SEA Seahawks||+350|
|1st SF 49ers/2nd LA Rams/3rd ARI Cardinals/4th SEA Seahawks||+380|
|1st LA Rams/2nd ARI Cardinals/3rd SF 49ers/4th SEA Seahawks||+550|
|1st SF 49ers/2nd ARI Cardinals/3rd LA Rams/4th SEA Seahawks||+700|
|1st ARI Cardinals/2nd LA Rams/3rd SF 49ers/4th SEA Seahawks||+700|
At the top, the West features the returning champion Los Angeles Rams, who at this point are listed at +150 to win the division and +1000 odds to win a second straight Super Bowl -- the latter ranking behind only the Bills and Buccaneers. It's not a surprise to see them listed as the winning team in two of the top three scenarios -- both between +350 and +550 odds.
The other divisional opponent to hold down two top spots in the top four is the San Francisco 49ers. In the most likely scenario, by DraftKings' odds, they are expected to finish second. They're +180 for the division and +1400 to win the Super Bowl, not far off the Rams.
There is a sizable break when you consider those same two lines. The Cardinals come next in order, but Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray, and company come in at +2500 for the title and +300 for the division -- to pull the upset over the Rams and Niners alike. There's clearly a lack of respect and belief in an Arizona team that finished just a single win back of the Rams and appeared in the Wild Card round where they lost to the eventual champs.
With the Seahawks, we get yet another break between them and the Cardinals given where they are at as a franchise. Essentially, they're headed toward a rebuild after dealing Russell Wilson to Denver -- and allowing the aforementioned Wagner to go elsewhere -- and are set to rely on Drew Lock behind center for a least this season. Because of that, the oddsmakers have them at a very distant +1400 for the division.
Should we expect things to follow in order, make a slight departure from the high-probability outcomes, or find big value down the line?
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NFC West Exact Order Value After Free Agency
|NFC West Exact Order||Odds|
|1st LA Rams/2nd ARI Cardinals/3rd SEA Seahawks/4th SF 49ers||+4000|
It's very difficult to envision a scenario where the Rams don't end up on top in the West. Sure, they lost Von Miller and Odell Beckham in free agency, but they did bring back Matthew Stafford on a large extension and added both Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner. By talent alone, they are very likely better on paper, and that's after winning the division with 12 wins and a rating out fifth overall, eighth in offense, and fifth in defense, according to Football Outsiders' DVOA.
This is where things could go quite differently and pay off in the long run. Again, Arizona finished second just a year ago, and as they did so they were 10th overall -- 15th in offense and 6th in defense. The defense did take a big hit in that they were separated from defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Jordan Hicks. And from an offensive perspective, they have a void that needs to be filled with the loss of Christian Kirk. There's no saying they still won't make a move or add via the 23rd overall pick. We know there will be a number of receivers around, and if they take advantage there the Cardinals should still have enough firepower to compete and potentially overtake the Niners.
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Seattle finding their way to the third spot is, in fact, the most farfetched part of this exact order. They're in the midst of their first year without Wilson, and on top of that they watched cornerback D.J. Reed and tight end Gerald Everett get picked up for more money in free agency. The loss of Wagner has been mitigated in part by the signing of former Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who is just 25 and proved himself worthy of nearly $10 million a year. In the event Lock exceeds expectations and connects with the likes of Metcalf and Lockett on the outside, their offense could carry a very average-looking defense to an eight-win season.
For this play out this way, it's more about San Francisco stumbling than Seattle being so surprisingly good. After all, there's also a chance that the Seahawks have a rookie quarterback at the helm for all or part of the year. However, in the same vein, the 49ers -- assuming they trade Jimmy Garoppolo -- could be heading into the season with a very inexperienced sophomore of their own in Trey Lance. Lance showed flashes of athleticism last year, but it's hard to say how good he'll be under center and operating the Shanahan offense over the long haul. Plus, teams will be keying on his legs, as well as Deebo Samuel's involvement close to the line of scrimmage. They're one injured weapon away from a very mediocre offense. The incoming Charvarius Ward will help in the secondary on the defensive side, where they earned a ranking of seventh in DVOA a season ago. They're going to show up defensively, but again, if Lance disappoints or a Samuel injury rears its head, they could manage only six or seven wins and allow Seattle to swoop in.
Crazier things have happened, and entertaining the crazy could prove very worth it. At +4000 odds, a $100 bet returns $4,000 -- an edge of $3,650 over the favored exact order.
Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.