The NFC West was the only division where three of the four teams qualified for the playoffs last season, with the Los Angeles Rams embarking on a run to the Super Bowl title.
The Rams are going after their fourth division title in the last six years. There have been two trips to the Super Bowl during that time. In three of the last four seasons, the winner of the NFC West represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.
According to the NFL predictions, the Rams (+125) have the best odds to win the NFC West title followed by San Francisco and Arizona.
The NFL odds list the Rams (+1100) second among NFC teams in the odds to win the Super Bowl. The 49ers are fourth at +1600 and the Cardinals come in sixth at +2800.
BetUS Odds to Win NFC West
- Los Angeles Rams +125
- San Francisco 49ers +175
- Arizona Cardinals +325
- Seattle Seahawks +1600
Los Angeles Rams
The Super Bowl champions feature the elite players on both sides of the ball. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is one of the most feared players in football while Cooper Kupp is coming off one of the best seasons by a receiver in NFL history. The NFL picks have Kupp and Donald tied for the best odds in the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year races.
Linebacker Von Miller, receiver Robert Woods and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth are among the key departures.
The offense should benefit by having running back Cam Akers for the entire season while Darrell Henderson returning gives the Rams a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield.
With Woods on the way out, Los Angeles brought in Allen Robinson. Tight end Tyler Higbee is coming off a 60-catch season. Odell Beckham Jr. is still unsigned with the odds favoring him to return to the Rams.
Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth retired after helping the Rams win the Super Bowl.
There are some holes to fill at linebacker. Ernest Jones figures to play a large role after finishing with 61 tackles as a rookie. Leonard Floyd will continue to provide a pass rush.
Led by perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the secondary is in good shape. Safeties Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp were the top two tacklers a season ago.
San Francisco 49ers
A new era is about to start for the 49ers, led by quarterback Trey Lance and running back Eli Mitchell, both second-year players.
The defense will be led by defensive end Nick Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner. Bosa is fifth in the Defensive Player of the Year odds and Warner is tied for 14th.
Mitchell finished eighth in the NFL with 963 rushing yards as a rookie as he took full advantage of injuries to other running backs. Lance, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, only saw limited action as a rookie.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been given the right to pursue a trade.
Leading receiver Deebo Samuel, who had 1,405 receiving yards and another 365 on the ground, hasn’t hidden his displeasure with his contract situation. However, it looks like he will be returning. Samuel and tight end George Kittle give Lance a pair of elite receiving options.
San Francisco has used priority picks to address the offensive line in recent years with the selections of Mike McGlinchey and Aaron Banks in 2021. San Francisco gave up two picks in the 2021 draft to acquire Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.
On defense, the secondary will have a different look without safety Jaquiski Tartt as well as cornerbacks Josh Norman and K’Waun Williams. Safety George Odum was brought in from Indianapolis and cornerback Charvarius Ward was signed away from Kansas City. Odum and Ward combined for 122 tackles and three interceptions last season.
Bosa had 15½ sacks a season ago while Warner led the 49ers with 137 tackles. It could be argued that they are the best players at their position in the NFL. Azeez Al-Shaair added 102 stops.
Arik Armstead is another pass rusher to keep an eye on. The 49ers took USC’s Drake Jackson in the second round of the NFL Draft and added Kerry Hyder and Kemoko Turay during the offseason.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was limited to three games last season. His return should strengthen a solid defense.
Jimmy Ward (77 tackles, two interceptions) and Emmanuel Moseley return in the secondary. Keep an eye on second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga, another impressive late-round draft selection by the 49ers.
One potential nightmare was averted with quarterback Kyler Murray just signing one rather lucrative extension.
All smiles today in the Valley 😄 pic.twitter.com/GcmLzQCETu
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) July 21, 2022
The addition of receiver Marquise Brown gives Murray another dynamic option in the passing game. It doesn’t hurt that they played together in college at Oklahoma.
The continued development of former top-50 draft picks Byron Murphy, Isaiah Simmons, and Zaven Collins could hold the key to success on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cardinals faded down the stretch, losing four of their last five regular-season games and then falling to the division rival and eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in the first round of the playoffs. The Cardinals allowed 30.8 points in those five losses.
There could be some offensive struggles early on while star receiver DeAndre Hopkins serves a six-game suspension after testing positive for a drug on the banned list by the NFL. Once he is back, the passing offense could be downright frightening.
With Chase Edmonds off to Miami, former Kansas City running back Darrel Williams was signed to go with James Conner and Eno Benjamin. Arizona finished tied for third in the NFL with 23 rushing touchdowns and ranked 10th in rushing yards. Some of that is a result of Murray’s running ability. Conner will need to improve his mark of 3.7 yards per carry from a season ago.
The offensive line got good news with the decision of veteran center Rodney Hudson to return for a 12th NFL season.
Former New York Giants guard Will Hernandez was signed in the offseason.
Replacing top pass rusher Chandler Jones will be no easy task. Arizona had no first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft due to the trade for Brown. However, the defensive end/outside linebacker position was addressed with Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders drafted in the third round.
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Things are certainly going to look much different now that longtime Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has been traded to Denver and Bobby Wagner, the franchise’s second all-time leading tackler, signed with the Los Angeles Rams.
There are questions about the availability of star running back Chris Carson as well.
Drew Lock, who was acquired in the trade for Wilson, and Geno Smith will compete for the starting quarterback job.
With star receivers, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf returning and newly acquired tight end Noah Fant potentially giving the Seahawks another talented option in the passing game, perhaps there will be life after Russell Wilson.
Offensive tackle Charles Cross was acquired in the first round, another piece of the trade for Wilson. What is interesting is that Wilson had made his concerns about the pass blocking with the Seahawks known and it took his departure for that need to be addressed. Seattle also added interior offensive lineman Austin Blythe in free agency and picked up tackle Abraham Lucas in the third round of the draft.
The running back situation was addressed when Seattle used one of its two picks in the second round on Kenneth Walker out of Michigan State. It was the first time Seattle used a top-50 selection on a running back since taking Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 draft. According to the NFL expert picks, Walker (+1000) has the second-best odds among running backs to be named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Seahawks also added Darwin Thompson from Kansas City to go with Penny, Walker, Deejay Dallas, and Travis Homer, so there are options if Carson is not able to suit up early in the season.
Jordyn Brooks is now the face of the Seattle defense after he led the Seahawks with 184 tackles in 2021. He was rather busy as the Seahawks ranked 28th in the NFL in total defense.
Safeties Quandre Diggs (94 tackles, five interceptions), Jamal Adams (87 tackles), and Ugo Amadi as well as cornerback Sidney Jones return in the secondary. Seattle will have to replace cornerback D.J. Reed, who is now with the New York Jets.
Cody Barton and key offseason acquisition Uchenna Nwosu will help Brooks out at linebacker.
Seattle used a second-round pick on edge rusher Boye Mafe. Shelby Harris, also part of the return in the Wilson trade, had a career-high six sacks for the Broncos a season ago.
The defensive struggles played a role in five of Seattle’s last six games going over the total last season.