At the halfway point of the NFL season, it’s time to acknowledge that the NFC West is the best division in football. Every single team has a positive point differential and is sitting at or above .500.
Around the division, the Seahawks have made the most noise through week 8. Led by MVP candidate Russell Wilson, Seattle has mostly looked like a Super Bowl contender.
Elsewhere around the division, the Cardinals and Rams are holding their own. Meanwhile, San Francisco seems to be the least fortunate team in the league in terms of injury luck.
With half a season remaining in 2020, sports gamblers have plenty of opportunities to place some winning bets at online sportsbooks on football’s best division.
Here are seven observations about the NFC West to help guide you through the rest of the season.
1. Seattle Is Best in the West
At the time of writing, the first-place Seattle Seahawks currently hold a 6-1 record and are emerging as a team to beat in the NFC. The only blemish on the Seahawks record came in a heartbreaking week 7 defeat at the hands of the Cardinals.
On paper, Seattle appears to be the best team in the division, as well as the conference. However, upon closer inspection, things begin to appear less definitive.
Seattle’s past opponents have a combined record of 19-26, and none of their wins jump off the page. It might be unfair to hold their schedule against them, but it is somewhat concerning.
While Seattle’s offense thrives, its defense continues to struggle. Injuries haven’t been kind to the Seattle D, but the team will have to overcome setbacks if they hope to make a deep playoff run.
If Seattle had taken care of business against Arizona in a very winnable game, it would be easier to overlook some of these concerns.
Seattle is still 5-2 against the spread and has the best record in the NFC. If they can figure out the defense, they will be tough to beat in the postseason.
2. Kingsbury Is Proving He Belongs in NFL
When the Arizona Cardinals announced the hiring of Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, the general reaction around the league was a slight sense of befuddlement.
Kliff Kingsbury? The guy who had a losing record as a college coach? The guy who essentially squandered Patrick Mahomes’ college career at Texas Tech? That Kliff Kingsbury?
Kingsbury’s first season went about as well as expected, and his team finished at 5-10-1. But because of all the events that happened in 2020, there didn’t seem to be any time for Kinsbury and second-year QB Kyler Murray to figure out how to win games in one of the best divisions.
Yet, the Cardinals have emerged as one of the bigger surprises in the league. Both the offense and defense are sitting just outside the top 10 in the league in terms of productivity. That’s not necessarily surprising for the offense as Kingsbury was hired due to his offensive game planning abilities.
The defense is a different story entirely. However, it seems like the Cardinals head coach has wisely turned the reins over to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
The Cardinals proved they’re a legitimate threat in the West, following a marquee victory over Seattle in Week 7. It’s too early to declare the Kingsbury hire a slam dunk, but he’s certainly establishing himself as someone worthy of a head coaching gig in the NFL.
3. Injuries Sink San Fran’s Ship
Following an abridged training camp and a canceled preseason, injuries were to be expected around the league. But, no team has been hit harder than San Francisco.
Going into week 9, over one-third of the 49ers roster is out with some sort of injury. You read that correctly. Things were already dire before San Francisco faced the Seahawks in Week 8. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for the 49ers.
Adding to the laundry list of injuries, starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end, George Kittle went down against Seattle.
Garoppolo looks to be out for at least six weeks, while Kittle should be done for the season after fracturing a bone in his foot.
The injury to Garoppolo means that the 49ers will have to turn to Nick Mullens down the stretch.
At 4-4, San Francisco still has a chance to make the playoffs, but it will be increasingly challenging given the NFC West’s strength.
4. Goff Contract Continues to Haunt Los Angeles
A few recent contracts in Los Angeles might be why the Rams can’t establish themselves as a powerhouse in the NFC.
The most notable is that of starting QB Jard Goff, who is in the second year of a four-year $110 million deal. That might seem like nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ contract, but Goff is no Patrick Mahomes.
Goff is the highest-paid member of a Rams team that has struggled to get over the hump in the NFC. Following a meek showing against New England in Super Bowl 53, LA hasn’t looked the same.
Los Angeles is paying Goff to be a top 5 quarterback in the league, but he continues to play slightly above average football. It would be unfair to blame all of LA’s woes on offense on Goff, but he’s one of the most significant issues.
The Rams are currently 5-3 (4-4 ATS), which is good for third place in the West. The next four weeks will be do or die for LA as they’ll face Seattle, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Arizona.
That could be a brutal stretch for a team that can struggle to score points. Until Goff strings a few good starts together, I’d advise staying away from betting on the Rams.
5. Seahawks’ Receiving Corps Among League Leaders
A noticeable byproduct of Seattle’s higher percentage of passing plays is increased production from Seahawks’ receivers. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Seattle has the best group of receivers in the league at the season’s midway point.
The two-headed monster of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett has proved to be too much for opposing defenses to handle. Both players are among the league leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns.
Metcalf continues to develop and insert himself into the conversation as the top receiver in the league.
Meanwhile, Locket is projected to have a career year and is just 3 touchdowns short of tying his career-high.
Additionally, Seattle has the veteran presence of Greg Olsen at tight end and third-year receiver David Moore to help spread the field. It’s no wonder Russell Wilson is the clear MVP favorite.
Seattle has hit the over in five of its seven games. Until the production from this receiving corps slows, there’s no reason to consider betting the under.
6. Russ Is a Clear MVP
Before the season, Seattle let on that quarterback Russell Wilson was going to work through the air more often than previous seasons. The move makes sense when you consider that Seattle lacks a true superstar at running back.
Despite the vote of confidence in their veteran QB, it’s hard to imagine that Seattle knew that turning Wilson loose would be this productive.
Through seven games, Wilson has more than 2,100 passing yards and leads the league in passing touchdowns with 26. He’s projected to easily surpass his career-high in both passing yards and touchdowns.
Despite a small setback against Arizona in week 7, Wilson looks like the clear choice for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
Listed as the favorite at -110 prior to Week 8, there’s still some value with that bet. It’s worth mentioning that there are a handful of variables standing in his way.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes continues to dominate the AFC West and put up video game-like numbers. As it stands, Mahomes is the only one who looks like a legitimate candidate.
Seattle hasn’t faced a top-10 defense thus far, so it will be interesting to see how Wilson will handle a competent opponent.
Wilson has yet to miss a game through eight seasons in the league, so injury concerns shouldn’t come into play. If he keeps up this pace, you might as well start engraving the trophy now.
The NFC West is clearly the best division in the NFC and maybe even the entire NFL.
It seems like three teams could be representing the division come playoff time and will be important to keep up with when you wager wagering at the NFL betting sites.
Both Arizona and Los Angeles trail Seattle in the division but are still hovering around the league’s top 10 teams.
Arizona, led by head coach Kliff Kingsbury, is a pleasant surprise and could be a potential dark horse.
Rounding out the division is the injury-plagued San Francisco Giants, who just can’t catch a break. In a division that’s as competitive as the West, the road to the playoffs might be closed.