The NFC West has been considered one of the weakest divisions in the NFL for quite some time, and it has made making NFL picks a disaster for football betting fanatics. This year though, there are arguments that could be made for all four teams as contenders, and this might be the campaign that it becomes a lot more favorable to back teams on the odds to win the NFC West.
We’ll start with the team that came out of nowhere last year, the San Francisco 49ers (NFC West Odds: 1 to 2.50 @ 5Dimes Sportsbook). For years and years, we knew that the Niners had some talent, but the Mike Singletary era just didn’t end up going the way that it was supposed to go. Now with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh calling the shots, QB Alex Smith is taking care of the football, and the defense is playing a heck of a lot harder than it did under Singletary. Now, the team went from a perennial 6-8 win average team to one that was a play or two away from going to the Super Bowl. Smith has to continue to take care of the pigskin and not throw picks, though this year. He is probably going to be asked to do a bit more for his team knowing that he has both WR Randy Moss and WR Mario Manningham to work with. RB Frank Gore is becoming known as fragile, but the addition of RB LaMichael James & RB Brandon Jacobs should help out on the ground. It’s up to this defense once again to keep them in games. With LB Patrick Willis and the leagues best linebacking core leading the way, there’s no reason to believe that the 49ers won’t win this division for a second straight year.
Head Coach Pete Carroll knows that the time is coming and that his Seattle Seahawks (2012 Odds To Win NFC West: 4.80 to 1 @ 5Dimes Sportsbook) really have to compete in the NFC West. The team has played a heck of a lot better defense under his direction, but the offense for the most part has been suspect. As a result this year, the team drafted QB Russell Wilson as a project pick and signed QB Matt Flynn via free agency. Though it seems Flynn will be the starter, there could be a three-way fight for the job between the two along with incumbent QB Tarvaris Jackson. Either way, the important function of the offense is to make sure that RB Marshawn Lynch gets the job done. Lynch just earned himself big payday in the offseason, and he is the key to keeping this offense going; especially knowing that there really aren’t any truly explosive receivers that can readily stretch the field.
Meanwhile in the desert, Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt is on the hottest seat in the league with his Arizona Cardinals (Current Odds to win the NFC West: 7.50 to 1 @ 5Dimes Sportsbook). Whisenhunt probably didn’t get fired because his team finished out the year winning 7 of their last 9 last year, getting the Cardinals to .500 by beating the Seahawks on the final day of the regular season. That being said, 8-8 isn’t going to cut it this year in all likelihood for Whisenhunt to keep his job. QB Kevin Kolb is also going to be up against it this year. If Kolb fails, he could easily be replaced and become a career backup. WR Larry Fitzgerald was a bit off of his normal numbers last year, but the addition of WR Michael Floyd could open things up for him (and return this offense to the same level that it was at when Fitz and WR Anquan Boldin were both dominating receivers).
The time is coming for the St. Louis Rams (2012 NFC West Odds: 9.35 to 1 @ 5Dimes Sportsbook). We like the fact that they signed Head Coach Jeff Fisher in the offseason, and we also like that they traded; and traded quite a bit in the NFL Draft to pick up a ton of potential starters. It showed the league that QB Sam Bradford is still the face of this franchise and the future. RB Steven Jackson has the potential to continue what might be a Hall of Fame career. Are the Rams there yet? Not quite. Can they find a way to compete in the vastly improved NFC West next season? It is entirely possible. Still, we look to see the framework for a much better and improved campaign set in 2012. the Rams are going to be an up and coming team to watch in the future as long as they continue to draft well with all of their extra picks and keep building on a solid foundation.
San Francisco 49ers Win NFC West -250
Field Wins NFC West +190
Seattle Seahawks Win NFC West +480
Field Wins NFC West -750
Arizona Cardinals Win NFC West +750
Field Wins NFC West -1165
St. Louis Rams Win NFC West +935
Field Wins NFC West -1420
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