If there’s a word that characterizes the NFC West in the years since the realignment of 2002 it would be “balance.” This division has been balanced in that all four teams have taken their turns winning it and reaching the Super Bowl. It’s been balanced in mediocrity—as in the ridiculous year of 2010 when the Seattle Seahawks won it at 7-9. And it’s been balanced in excellence, as is the case today.
Seattle and the San Francisco 49ers dominated the media coverage of on-field news in the offseason, with their attempts to spice up their passing offense. The Niners came within a play of winning the Super Bowl in 2012. The Seahawks came within a play of reaching the NFC Championship Game. Each has a talented, young quarterback.
We could pencil this in as the rivalry of the next decade, but that presumes that the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals are just going to go quietly. The Rams made big strides in their first year under Jeff Fischer, and the Cardinals went and got Carson Palmer to run their offense.
The betting markets in Las Vegas aren’t ready to give the Rams and Cards too much credit just yet. The odds for winning the NFC West weight heavily to the two favorites. Both the 49ers and Seahawks are listed at 11-10. Then you drop down to 10-1 with St. Louis and 20-1 with Arizona.
From a purely wagering standpoint, I like that number with the Rams. The previews for all four NFC West teams are at the links below, but for a short version, I believe St. Louis is going to continue their improvement and I see San Fran and Seattle slipping just a hair to create a tight three-team race. And Arizona is also going to play respectable football.
The NFL analysis at the links below contains a prediction on how each team will fare against it’s Over/Under win number. I haven’t yet made up my mind on who I’m taking to win the division or how playoff seedings will sort out. That will take place shortly before the regular season opens on September 5.