The Los Angeles Rams can’t wait to get on the field again. Since returning to Los Angeles three years ago, the Rams have improved by leaps and bounds from season to season. They went 4-12 upon their return in 2016, but the hiring of Sean McVay proved to be an inspired one. He helped make the offense one of the best in the NFL, and the Rams went 11-5 in 2017 and 13-3 last season. Of course, we all know what happened in the postseason, but Bill Belichick has made a habit of doing that over the last two decades. The Rams are ripe to return to the playoffs, and they are an odds-on favorite to win the NFC West.
2019 NFC West Odds
Los Angeles Rams -165
Seattle Seahawks +280
San Francisco 49ers +490
Arizona Cardinals +3700
This offense is one of the best in the league, but I want to start with the defense. Aaron Donald is the best player in the game today, and he allows this defense to do so much. He has made the Pro Bowl every year in his career, and he is the only player in the NFL with four straight First-Team All-Pro selections. He posted 20.5 sacks as a defensive tackle in a hybrid system last year, which is beyond absurd. Even though Ndamakong Suh is gone, I don’t expect him to miss a beat.
The defense has further improved with the additions of safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. Both players are veterans that could make the Pro Bowl in Wade Phillips system.
Of course, the offense is scary too. Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp combine to make one of the best receiving trios in the NFL, and Todd Gurley is one of the three best running backs in the league. There is a major concern along the offensive line though, as left tackle Andrew Whitworth is almost 40, and two starters are entering their second year in the league. If anything keeps the Rams from winning the division this year, it’s probably the offensive line.
I don’t understand the love for the Seahawks. Seattle was able to lock up Russell Wilson to a long-term deal, but there are plenty of questions on both sides of the ball for a team that went 10-6 in 2018.
Doug Baldwin retired a few weeks ago, and that will put the pressure on DK Metcalf to make an immediate impact as a rookie. Tyler Lockett was a decent option, but by and large, this team lacks weapons in the passing game. Chris Carson could be one of the top running backs in the conference year behind a good offensive line, yet his impact could be blunted if opponents stack the line.
Kam Chancellor was released after failing a physical in early May, and what was once a menacing defense has a ton of question marks. The linebacking corps has two veterans in Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright, but the defensive line and secondary have a lot of concerns. I’ll be fading Seattle this season, and I think the Seahawks end up with a sub-.500 record.
The San Francisco 49ers’ hopes of a return to glory in 2018 were dashed after Jimmy Garoppolo left Week 3’s tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs early because of a torn ACL. Although Nick Mullens performed admirably in relief, it wasn’t enough and the 49ers finished as one of the worst teams in the league.
There is a lot more optimism surrounding this team with the return of Jimmy G. George Kittle emerged as one of the better tight ends in the league, and the receiving corps isn’t half-bad. Rookies Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel will make it even better, and Tevin Coleman was brought in to give the running game a kick start.
This defense received a shot in the arm when Nick Bosa was taken second overall. However, this is still something of a patchwork unit that needs to improve considerably before San Francisco can become a real contender.
It’s going to take the Cardinals a while before they are good again. Kliff Kingsbury is a rookie NFL coach, and he will be working with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft in Kyler Murray. Arizona is very much a work in progress, but they could play spoiler later in the year with an offense that has the potential to be spicy.
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