Two teams from the NFC West qualified for the playoffs last season. It wouldn’t be stunning if the same thing happened in 2019. The Los Angeles Rams made it to the Super Bowl before falling to the New England Patriots, while the Seattle Seahawks would exit the postseason after a hard-fought loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round.
The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers had seasons to forget, but there is reason to hope for the future for both fan bases. Looking ahead to the coming year, the Rams are heavily favored to win the division once again, while the Seahawks are the second choice of oddsmakers.
So what’s the story with the NFC West this year? Will any of these teams surprise one way or the other? Let’s take a detailed look and find out.
*Betting odds provided by MyBookie.ag
Arizona Cardinals 2019 Division Title Odds (+2500)
2018 Record: 3-13 | Standings: 4-NFC West | Playoffs: N/A
The Cardinals opened up the 2018 season by getting their tailfeathers whacked at home by the Washington Redskins to the tune of 24-6. The game was nowhere near as close as the final score indicates. Unfortunately, it would also serve as a portend of what was to come.
The team would lose its next three in a row, including a 34-0 shutout loss to the Rams the following week. For the rest of the season, the club would win just three games. Two of the victories came over a 49ers team with a backup quarterback at the helm.
The other victory would cost the head coach of the Green Bay Packers his job. It was bad news in the desert in 2018 with nine of the team’s 13 losses coming by 10 points or more. Unsurprisingly, rookie head coach Steve Wilks was let go after the season came to a close.
While it’s tough to keep a job after that kind of performance, there are plenty of other fingers to be pointed for what went wrong with the Cardinals. This was a poorly constructed squad which simply didn’t have enough winning pieces in place.
The club would move on and hire Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Optimism abounds, as he put together high-powered offenses in the college ranks. Vance Joseph is on board as DC, while Tom Clements will serve as QB coach and passing game coordinator.
Speaking of QB, the club would use the first pick in the draft on Oklahoma signal-caller Kyler Murray. The team addressed both sides of the ball in free agency, so we’ll see if things mesh better this time around. NFL betting sites have tagged the Cardinals as a five-win team.
If they can reach or clear that bar, it would have to be considered a success.
Los Angeles Rams 2019 Division Title Odds (-200)
2018 Record: 13-3 | Standings: 1-NFC West | Playoffs: Lost Super Bowl
Heading into last year, the Rams were looking like potential contenders. That was confirmed when the team opened up the year with an eight-game winning streak. The skid was stopped with a 10-point road loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Los Angeles would bounce back and win five of its final seven games. A record of 13-3 was good enough for the second seed in the playoffs. In the Divisional Round, the club would run all over the Cowboys in a 30-22 victory.
That set up a rematch with New Orleans to decide the NFC. The Saints had control early, but the Rams would tie it up to send it to overtime. A Greg Zuerlein field goal later and the Rams would advance to the Super Bowl after a game which had some controversy due to a questionable call which shifted momentum.
The Rams faced off with the Patriots. They couldn’t get anything going on offense, going down by a score of 13-3. It was a disappointing end to the year, but the team is poised to contend once again with Sean McVay leading the way.
Wade Phillips returns to lead the defense, while Aaron Kromer and Shane Waldron split OC duties. In the offseason, the club would focus on bolstering the offensive line and defense. This is a club that was stout on both sides of the ball in 2018, and it’s looking like more of the same for this year.
Los Angeles is a big favorite to win the division again, and they are also among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Football betting sites have tempered the win total at 10.5, but this club is clearly talented enough to exceed that mark.
Barring an unexpected downturn or major injury issues, the Rams should be among the league’s elite in 2019.
San Francisco 49ers 2019 Division Title Odds (+550)
2018 Record: 4-12 | Standings: 3-NFC West | Playoffs: N/A
There was quite a buzz surrounding the 49ers heading into last season. Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the starter at the end of the prior year, and he looked like a perfect fit for the Kyle Shanahan offense. The excitement was high to see what he could do over a full year.
It wasn’t meant to be. Garoppollo went down for the year to injury in Week 3. San Francisco would struggle mightily from that point, but the team did continue to fight and play hard. As the final record of 4-12 indicates, 2018 turned out to be a wasted season.
Shanahan is back to lead the charge this year. He also handles OC duties, while Robert Saleh is tasked with leading the defense. All signs point to Garoppolo being back to normal, so that’s an immediate upgrade for the offense.
The defense received one as well via the draft when the club selected Ohio State DE Nick Bosa, a player who could be a disruptive force. Elsewhere in the offseason, the club would add pieces to both sides of the ball.
That being the case, it’s tough to expect the team to bounce back and contend right away. NFL betting websites have placed eight wins as the benchmark, and it makes for a fair number. A valid case can be made for the club to come out on both sides of it.
As we see it, improvement is coming to San Francisco, but not so much that they’ll contend for the division crown.
Seattle Seahawks 2019 Division Title Odds (+300)
2018 Record: 10-6 | Standings: 2-NFC West | Playoffs: Lost Wild Card
It was looking like a transition year for the Seahawks in 2018 as the team welcomed in a bunch of new faces. Instead, the team would evolve into one of the more impressive stories of the entire season. Things didn’t start off particularly great as they stood at 4-5, but the club turned it on in big league fashion from there.
Seattle went on to win six of its final seven games. The lone loss over that span was a three-point overtime defeat to the 49ers. A final record of 10-6 was good enough for a Wild Card berth. They would enter the postseason as a team no one wanted to face.
The Seahawks went to Dallas for a Wild Card date with the Cowboys. It was a close contest and one of the more entertaining affairs of the entire playoffs. In the end, the Cowboys managed to escape with a 24-22 victory to advance.
Pete Carroll returns and looks to follow up on one of the finest coaching performances of his impressive career. Brian Schottenheimer and Ken Norton Jr. are back to run the offense and defense respectively. The offseason would bring new pieces of the puzzle on defense as others moved on.
the unit was playing at a high level over the second half of the year. New faces in the mix are a wrinkle to contend with, but based on what happened last year after lots of attrition, we can expect the defense to be solid once again.
Doug Baldwin has retired, so Russell Wilson will be looking for a new favored target. The team is expected to rely on the ground game once again, another facet of the team which impressed in 2018. On regular-season wins, the bar has been set at 8.5.
It looks like the team may clear that, and they should be in the mix for the division if the Rams happen to stumble.
Our Pick to Win the NFC West
The Rams are rightfully big favorites to win the division. This is a team coming off of a Super Bowl appearance, and they have enough horses to do it again. Seattle could make a return to the postseason as well.
There’s too many questions for both the 49ers and Cardinals to consider them anything more than interesting clubs to watch develop over the course of the year. We like the Rams to repeat as NFC West champs in 2019.
If all goes well, a return to both the NFC title tilt and big game is possible as well.