It’s early days, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value early on these NFL divisional futures! Here’s my breakdown and pick for this year’s NFC West Winner:
Los Angeles Rams @ -175
Seattle Seahawks @ +300
San Francisco 49ers @ +550
Arizona Cardinals @ +2900
Picking a bet is tough for the NFC West given some of the odds that are available, with none really standing out.
The Cardinals are a huge +2900 which is perhaps the most tempting of the lot. They won't win the division but at that length there is always an outside chance given how two or three injuries could decimate the other teams in the division. There's still not a lot of talent in Arizona or weapons for Kyler Murray, who is still a mystery himself.
Kyle Shanahan is still the 49ers ace in the pack and with the returning Jimmy Garoppolo there is a real chance that this team is being underestimated. The recently acquired Tevin Coleman joins Jerick McKinon, back from long-term injury, giving Shanahan options in the backfield. George Kittle has shown his immense ability and is the team's main playmaker, with Kittle continuing to look like a mini-Gronk. Jordan Matthews has arrived but the real x-factor in the reciever corp is Dante Pettis, who has excellent route-running and is a serious breakout candidate in 2019. An ever-improving defense, buoyed by the arrival of Nick Bosa, still isn't quite enough ot make +550 look a price worth taking.
Seattle managed 10 wins last season, largely down to the huge step up taken by their offensive line. Russell Wilson is best when given time, allowing him to use his fantastic arm and having to rely less on using his athleticism to extend plays. It's hard to see the Seahawks getting many more wins this season.
The Rams have been one of the most debated teams in the offseason. Have rival coaches found out how to beat Jared Goff? Is Todd Gurley finished? The truth is probably somewhere in between.
Rival coaches have continued to find ways to frustrate Goff and cut his reliance on Sean McVay and that will likely continue. However McVay has continually shown that he can innovate and he'll no doubt find other ways to hurt teams.
Question marks over Todd Gurley are justified, with rumors of arthritis being very worrying. There'll almost certainly be an element of load management with Gurley this season but at his best he is a gamebreaker, an electrifying talent who can illuminate his team.
The return of Cooper Kupp cannot be overlooked and it will give Goff his safety blanket once again. He was putting up great numbers before injury and McVay will expect that to continue. The Rams' success will likely depend on the defense, with Wade Phillips' unit showing glimpses of both brilliance and incompetence in 2018. Aaron Donald will need to continue at the high level of the previous three seasons if the Rams defense will show any improvement.
Although I expect a Rams regression it feels unlikely that they'll deteriorate enough to be caught by either the Hawks or Niners. The playoff run may not be as deep this year but they'll almost certainly win the NFC West, which means they're the only pick, even at a slightly stingy price of -175.
2u – Los Angeles Rams to Win the NFC West @ -175