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Rams Have Top Odds To Win NFC West

Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods of the Los Angeles Rams celebrate

The last time the Rams won back-to-back NFC West titles was way back in 1979. To put that into context, Kramer vs Kramer was crushing it at the box office, No More Tears by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer was atop the Billboard charts and Sean McVay was five years away from being born.  

However, oddsmakers see that streak ending this season, as the Los Angeles Rams are -130 favorites to win their second consecutive NFC West crown.

Can The Rams Handle All The Big Personalities?

The Rams understand that the best way to win a Super Bowl in the modern age is to get your franchise quarterback under rookie contract and do your best to stack the rest of the roster. And that is exactly what LA did this offseason. The team brought in Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh on defense and Brandin Cooks on offense.

In case you don’t know, each one of those players is among the best at his position but also comes with plenty of baggage. The Rams roster was incredibly young last season and adding these big personalities to a young locker room could be a disaster.  What happens if Cooks doesn’t get his touches in a balanced offense? What if Peters decides to throw more referee flags into the stands? What if Talib decides to rip another receiver’s chain off his neck?

All of those are distinct possibilities. However, the Rams coaching staff seems better equipped than any to deal with these players. First, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is a defensive guru who has long dealt with big personalities, as long as they can play at an elite level. Few coaches in NFL history have been as good at it as Phillips. Secondly, players all around the league seem to want to play for McVay despite his young age. Players respect him more than older and more proven coaches while also seeing the special things he does as an offensive play caller.

If you are betting against the Rams to win the NFC West, you are doing so because you think this roster will implode under all the pressure. But from everything I have seen, the Rams deserve to be favorites and should win the NFC West yet again in 2018.

Are People Overvaluing The 49ers?

It wasn’t even a full calendar year ago that the San Francisco 49ers were looked at as one of the cellar-dwellers of the NFL. However, a franchise quarterback can change people’s opinions pretty fast.

After being acquired for what basically amounts to nothing, Jimmy Garoppolo became the face of the 49ers franchise. The 26-year-old proved that he deserved that distinction as well, leading the 49ers to a 5-0 record as a starter while compiling a 94.0 quarterback rating. There is little doubt that Garoppolo looked like the quarterback to lead the 49ers back to the promised land but does this team deserve to have the second-best odds to win the NFC West?

The 49ers offensive line is good but not great, the receiving unit leaves something to be desired and the defense ranked 24th in points allowed in 2017. San Francisco did a good job bolstering a few of those spots during the offseason – particularly the offensive line – but did little to improve defensively and opted to leave the pass catchers largely unchanged.

There are some very attractive pieces on the 49ers roster and there is no doubt that they have the base of a quality football team. If everything falls into place, the 49ers can challenge for the NFC West this season but that would mean everything clicks. I’m just afraid bettors may be putting the cart before the horse on this one.

Is Russell Wilson Enough On His Own?

God love Russell Wilson because he has done everything he can to single-handedly carry the Seattle Seahawks to competency the last several seasons. Wilson ranked 10th in the NFL in passer rating last season and paced the entire Seahawks team in rushing yards – mostly because he had no choice.

The once-dominant defense was falling apart – and has since been almost completely dismantled – the offensive line may have been the worst in football and there was not one competent running back on the roster. On top of that, the Seahawks did not exactly bring in any impact players during the offseason and made some questionable choices during the draft.

The question remains: Is Wilson enough to drag Seattle to the top of the NFC West?

The Seahawks might be able to repeat last season’s 9-7 record but a lot of things will need to go right. I’ve learned not to underestimate the Seahawks over the past decade but there is little on the roster to inspire much confidence.

Are The Cardinals The Real Sleeper Of The NFC West?

All the hype in the NFC West goes to the Rams and the 49ers but little love is being bestowed upon the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were basically decimated by injuries on offense last season with David Johnson, D.J. Humphries and Carson Palmer all going down. However, the defense was actually one of the more underrated in the NFL.

There is a lot of turnover with this team – coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer retired plus Tyrann Mathieu was released because he wouldn’t take a pay cut. However, the new coaching staff is plenty experienced and the quarterback position is in the good – though brittle – hands of Sam Bradford.

But the biggest reason for heightened expectations next season is David Johnson. Johnson is one of the best running backs in all of football and the Cardinals will be massively better on offense with him back on the field. Plus, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is bringing in a fullback to help block for Johnson – like he had during his collegiate career at Northern Iowa.

The Cardinals roster doesn’t have the glaring holes that the 49ers and Seahawks have but also doesn’t exactly have the top-tier talent to excite bettors. That being said, the Cardinals are solid across the board and though there may be some regression on defense, the offense should take a big step forward in 2018. If I’m taking a punt as a bettor, I would trust the Cardinals more than the Seahawks as an NFC West long shot.

Odds to Win 2018 NFC West Division
TeamOdds
Los Angeles Rams-130
San Francisco 49ers+300
Seattle Seahawks+375
Arizona Cardinals+1100

Odds as of June 7 at Bovada

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