The San Francisco 49ers are expected to finish at the bottom of the NFC West, while the Seattle Seahawks are sizable favorites to take home the division crown. The Seahawks are 2/7 favorites, while the 49ers are 18/1 longshots. The Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams are in between at 3/1 and 12/1, respectively.
Bovada released divisional odds released shortly after individual team win totals were released. I thought it would be fun to go around division by division and offer predictions for each team. We’ll start with the NFC West, and slowly make our way around the other seven divisions. Consider it another way of previewing the rest of the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers - 4.5 (Over -125, Under -105)
Early wagering is on the OVER, and that will be something to monitor. Given how bad they were last year, the influx of talent would seemingly mean they should be able to take a modest step forward. A big issue will be getting through five road games in seven weeks. The first of the schedule is brutal, thanks to that, and home games that include the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys. Week 3 at home against the Rams is very winnable, but other than that, there’s not much happening there.
If they can get through the first eight games with two or three wins, the OVER is very much in play. I’m leaning OVER for now, but the more public money that lands on it, the more I’m pondering fading it.
Seattle Seahawks - 10.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
The Seahawks championship window remains open, but it could be closing sooner rather than later. The team invested heavily in the defense during the draft. selecting a defensive tackle at the top of the second round, and adding three defensive backs in rounds three and four. The Legion of Boom is getting up there in age, and this draft could be critical if they are going to replenish that group.
I’d love this number a notch lower. I’m taking the UNDER, but there are some games that could swing this easily. They travel to face the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Based on recent performances, they should win both, but a split is not entirely crazy. I’m not sure I see them losing both, but that’s a tough pair of games in Weeks 3 and 14. Additionally, home games against Atlanta and Philadelphia are tough to call right now. I could see a split of those two. Those four games seem most likely to swing the Seahawks over or under 10.5 wins.
Arizona Cardinals - 8.0 (Over -105, Under -125)
2016 was a big disappointment for Arizona, as they went 7-8-1 after reaching the NFC title game in 2015. One would think they would be able to take a step forward, but I think things could get worse before they get better in Arizona. I think part of this is just rooted in the idea that Carson Palmer is nearing the end of his career. Maybe he stays healthy, but whether he does or not, I think this could be the last year, with a poor year effectively retiring him.
Arizona has a bye in Week 8, and looking at their schedule, 2-5 would not be the most surprising start. Even if they beat the 49ers and Rams, losses at Philly and at home against Tampa Bay could sink that first half. They have a three-game home stand Weeks 12-14 when they host the Jaguars, Rams, and Titans, and I would say that is the series that will make or break them getting more than eight wins.
Los Angeles Rams - 5.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
People once again seem to love the Rams chances of moving forward, this time under new head coach Sean McVay. Any chance at the over is going to come from the offense taking some kind of step forward. Football Outsiders ranked the Rams offense dead last in 2016, while their defense ranked No. 15, a year removed from ranking No. 7. Even with the defense returning a little more to form, they need some signs of life from Jared Goff.
I’m just not entirely sure I see six wins out of this team. Before the bye, they open vs. Indy and Washington, at San Francisco and Dallas, vs. Seattle, at Jacksonville, and vs. Arizona. They could split that opener, and that Seahawks game is always a tough one to figure. The Jaguars and 49ers are x-factors with their own changes. After the bye, home games against Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Francisco are all winnable, but how many will they actually win? They got Jared Goff a tight end in Gerald Everett and a wide receiver in Cooper Kupp. Can Goff take a step forward? Working with Sean McVay is certainly a plus. This is a tough call, but I’m leaning slightly on the OVER. I don’t think they’ll win a ton of games, but I think six wins is possible.