In case you missed it:
What happened last season?
- Seattle Seahawks 12-4
- LA Rams 10-6
- Arizona Cardinals 8-8
- SF 48ers 6-10
Both the Seahawks and Rams made the playoffs and squared off against each other in the Wild Card Round. The Rams won 30-20 behind RB Cam Akers 176 total yards but fell to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the following round 32-18.
Team Breakdown with Division Odds
Odds taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on 8/25/21
San Francisco 49ers (+190)
It is not often a team goes from last place in the division to favorites to win the division the following season. It is also unlikely for a team with a legitimate QB competition to be favored to win a division. Nonetheless, I present to you the San Francisco 49ers. Behind a strong defensive unit that gave up the 5th fewest yards in the NFL last year, the 49ers are hoping either incumbent QB Garoppolo regains his 2019 form or newcomer, 2021 3rd overall pick Trey Lance, can get San Fran back into the playoff mix. They resigned OT Trent Williams, have a proven target in TE George Kittle, and emerging talent in RB Raheem Mostert and WR Brandon Aiyuk. If HC and offensive guru Kyle Shanahan can get the Niners offense back on track they just may have a shot of playing in another Super Bowl sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Rams (+200)
Through an unlikely series of events the rams traded away below-average QB Jared Goff and picks for veteran QB Matt Stafford. Between HC Sean McVay’s wizardry and WRs Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp it is hard to imagine Stafford not succeeding in LA. Having either RB Darrell Henderson or recently acquired RB Sony Michel fill the quick shoes left by RB Cam Akers’ season-ending injury will help take some pressure off of the passing game. With future hall-of-famer DL Aaron Donald anchoring the d-line and CB Jalen Ramsey patrolling the secondary, the Rams had the best defense in the NFL last season statistically giving up the fewest points and yards in the league. 2020 defensive coordinator Brandon Staley stayed in the same city but left to become the HC of the LA Chargers. As long as new DC Raheem Morris can continue the Rams defensive dominance, Stafford may be just what the Rams are looking for to take them to the next level.
Seattle Seahawks (+280)
The infamous “Legion of Doom” as Seattle’s defensive secondary was once known is officially dead as Seattle gave up the 2nd most passing yards in the NFL last season. However, they did enough on defense to allow the offense to lead Seattle to a 12-4 record last season and with WR DK Metcalf’s emergence into one of the most dominant receivers in the league it’s more than possible Seattle repeats its 2020 regular season success. QB Russell Wilson is still an elite QB, RB Chris Carson has become one of the toughest runners in the league, and HC Pete Carroll is still able to motivate an NFL team as good, or better, than any other coach. As long as the defense can improve slightly, Seattle has just as good of a chance to win the NFC West as the Rams and 49ers.
Arizona Cardinals (+600)
In other divisions (say, the lackluster NFC East) the Cardinals would probably be favored to win, yet here are they are projected to finish last. QB Kyler Murray has excelled in his young NFL career as both a rusher and passer. In DeAndre Hopkins, Murray has one of the best receivers in the NFL at his disposal and will also be looking to get the ball this season to newly acquired veteran WR AJ Green and rookie WR Rondale Moore. In the backfield, RBs Chase Edmonds and free-agent signing James Connor will share the load with Edmonds getting most of his work on passing downs. Arizona made a splash in free agency defensively as well signing past-his-prime veteran DE JJ Watt. The Cardinals defense was middle-of-the-road last season and is hoping 1st round pick LB Zaven Collins is the missing piece to take their defensive performance up a notch.
2021-22 NFC West Projections
- LA Rams 12-5
- Seattle Seahawks 11-6
- SF 49ers 10-7
- Arizona Cardinals 8-9
NFC West Best Bets
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray OVER 624.5 Yards Rushing (-112) – In 16 games last season he rushed for 819 yards. Add an extra game, and the rushing space a receiver like Hopkins helps create, and he should reach this number before Week 17.
Seahawks RB Chris Carson OVER 975.5 Yards Rushing (-112) – We’re banking on his health here, but in 2018 Carson ran for 1,151 yards in 14 games and in 2019 he put up 1,230 yards in 15 games. Last season, he played 12 games and finished with 681 yards. Between the extra game and the likelihood he sees an increase in carries this year take the OVER.
Rams OVER 10.5 Wins (+120) – Yes, they play in an extremely tough division but I don’t see the Rams going less than 11-6 this season. Plus odds for this one too!
49ers WR Deebo Samuel UNDER 878.5 Receiving Yards (-112) – He managed 802 yards his rookie season but only had 391 last season in 7 games. Between TE Kittle’s large target share, the emergence of WR Brandon Aiyuk, and San Fran’s preference to establish the running game; this feels like an UNDER.