It’s time to cash some of those future bets — and forget about some others. With the 2021 NFL regular season in the books, we look back at the highs and lows of betting action in the NFC West from this past season based on some of the preseason NFL betting odds:
Los Angeles Rams (12-5): Right on Schedule
The 2021 season was unquestionably a hugely successful one for the Los Angeles Rams, who won the NFC West for the first time in 2018 and seem to finally solved their problem at quarterback by trading for Matthew Stafford. They got off to a quick start and closed the regular season by going 5-1, sandwiching a rough midseason three-game losing streak. LA managed to do all of this despite sustaining multiple key backfield injuries and only getting half a season from Robert Woods.
It wasn’t always pretty, especially with Stafford going through some turnover issues later in the season, but the Rams have found ways to win close games and certainly are a team no one wants to deal with in the playoffs. They easily surpassed their preseason win total (10½) in Week 16 and won the division outright as +175 co-favorites despite losing twice to the San Francisco 49ers.
They only went 8-9 with NFL picks against the spread, though, thanks to a bunch of one-possession wins down the stretch, but were 9-7-1 on overs with Stafford overseeing a top-10 offense.
The Rams weren’t dominant, per se, but they were an elite team essentially all season, which is tough to do with so many starters out. It helped to have Stafford immediately click with Cooper Kupp for a historic campaign and that duo (plus Odell Beckham Jr.) is going to be really tough to stop going forward.
Arizona Cardinals (11-6): Surprising and Disappointing
In a similar way to the Rams, the Arizona Cardinals’ season was a huge overachievement based on all the preseason predictions and expectations, but it probably could have gone a bit better. The DeAndre Hopkins and Chase Edmonds injuries — and Kyler Murray missing a few games — have taken an elite skill-position group down to a merely good one, so there have been flashes of the Cardinals looking unstoppable while they’ve mostly been pretty good.
Even with losing four of their last five games to end the season, the Cardinals managed to hit their win total over (8½) in Week 11. They were big +450 underdogs to win the division and actually were in the pole position to do so until they slipped in December and lost a vital home game against the Rams in Week 14.
A big reason for Arizona fading as the season went on was J.J. Watt’s midseason injury and Chandler Jones cooling off after a ridiculous Week 1 showing. The Cardinals wound up being 11th in both scoring defense and yardage defense, but they were much more vulnerable on that side of the ball in the second half of the season.
With that said, they still managed to be 10-7 against the spread, so if you backed Arizona by betting online throughout the season, you had a pretty profitable year. Overs were just 8-9 in the Cardinals’ games because their game-by-game over/under points totals were pretty high with how explosive the offense was expected to be even without Hopkins available.
San Francisco 49ers (10-7): Once Again, Too Many Injuries
It was a pretty weird season for the San Francisco 49ers, who wound up back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus but did so in a relatively unimpressive way. On the other hand, it was remarkable for Kyle Shanahan and Co. to make the postseason after losing Raheem Mostert for the season in Week 1 and needing to rely on rookie sixth-round pick Elijah Mitchell to be the feature back in the offense. The same could be said for a defense ravaged by its own injury issues.
San Francisco’s early-season four-game losing streak made it tough for the 49ers to hit their win total over (10½ wins), but they did manage to come close. Close calls were a constant theme of the season as five of their seven losses were by seven points or fewer, another sign that San Francisco probably played a bit better than its final record would indicate.
Still, for a team that was -200 to make the playoffs and +175 to win the division (same odds as the Rams), sneaking into the playoffs as one of the last Wild Card teams was a little disappointing when compared to preseason expectations, but more understandable considering how the season started.
San Francisco did manage to go 9-8 against the spread and the over went 8-9. Those numbers kind of obscure how well they played for much of the season, though, as the 49ers ended up with a top-10 defense in both points and yardage allowed and were seventh in yards from scrimmage on offense. The rushing attack was a particular surprise.
Seattle Seahawks (7-10): End of an Era?
If you bet on the Seattle Seahawks often on the BetUS sportsbook in 2021, you probably didn’t do so well. Seattle was expected to take a step back this season but not many people expected just how bad Pete Carroll’s team would be. The Seahawks needed to win their final two games just to reach a respectable seven wins, which was still below the preseason win over/under of 9½ victories.
Seattle’s shot of going over ended in Week 12, which says a lot. The Seahawks’ playoff expectations were mixed (-115 on either side) but they were still just +300 to win the division, so that wasn’t considered completely out of the realm of possibility. The reality was that Seattle’s defense nosedived — 28th in yards allowed and 31st in passing yards allowed — and the offense couldn’t keep up. Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett all turned out great seasons, yet Chris Carson played just four games and no other pass-catchers stepped up, dooming the Seahawks.
It’s a little surprising that the Seahawks managed to go 9-8 against the spread, but not as surprising that the over went 6-10-1 in their games. The big question going forward for Seattle is what to do with Wilson. He’s as good as ever, yet it might not make sense for the Seahawks to keep him around through a necessary rebuild that could start in 2022.