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Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, correct as of 9/14/2023.
The Super Bowl has hosted a team from the NFC West in 50% of its games since the 2011-12 season. San Francisco was a healthy elbow away from having a chance to add yet another team to that list.
It’s no secret the 49ers are favorites to win back-to-back division titles, something the franchise hasn’t done since the 2011 and 2012 teams. But Seattle shouldn’t be overlooked in the divisional race. Here are predictions for the NFC West title and the win lines for each team.
The 49ers dug their way to a 13-win season in 2022 despite season-ending injuries to their starting and backup quarterbacks. That tells you pretty much all you need to know about San Francisco.
Sitting as unanimous favorites to win the division despite not having a clear Week 1 starter under center, the 49ers boast one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Four different players averaging over 40 receiving yards a game — Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey — with each representing a unique gameplan for head coach Kyle Shanahan to scheme up.,
No team had more points scored than the 49ers from Week 13 — when third-string rookie sensation Brock Purdy took over — to the end of the season. Whether it’s Purdy or Trey Lance starting Week 1, the offensive efficiency won’t drop off so long as Shanahan is calling the shots.
With Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa, All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner and the signing of 11-sack defensive tackle Javon Hargrave the defense should be as fearsome as ever. The 49ers allowed just over 17 points per game, the best mark by a team since 2019.
NFC West champions have recorded 11 wins or more in nine of the last 10 seasons. The team’s win line sits at 10.5 on DraftKings and PointsBet but jumps to 11.5 on bet365 and Caesar’s at plus odds. Expect them to comfortably clear the former and tentatively cover the latter.
The 49ers sit middle of the pack — ranked 15th — in the strength of schedule for 2023.
While the 49ers should win the division no one should be surprised if Seattle gave San Francisco a run for its money.
General manager John Schneider went out and signed Dre’Mont Jones for three years, $51 million which should add pressure from the interior. Jones struggled in run defense last year at times, but he should still help Seattle improve upon its third-worst run defense.
The team added cornerback Devon Witherspoon in the first round to pair with Tariq Woolen, who rivaled Sauce Gardner for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Julian Love joins the safety room after a career year with the Giants, and no one should forget that Bobby Wagner is once more a Seahawk.
It’s a massive overhaul and one that should certainly mark an improvement from the year prior.
Offensively the team added loads of depth. First-round wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a dynamic threat after the catch who could make an instant impact while serving as a future weapon in the inevitable post-Tyler Lockett era.
Meanwhile, the rushing attack behind a good offensive line received some much-needed reinforcements. Kenneth Walker had a strong rookie year, but no one could replace him when the Michigan State product was off the field. Enter Zach Charbonnet, a strong rusher with capable hands who dominated at UCLA.
On paper, there aren’t many weaknesses to this team. And while teams on paper don’t always translate to wins — especially with Geno Smith’s uncertain track record at quarterback — there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in Seattle.
It’s easy to forget that the Seahawks were two quarters away from beating the 49ers in the playoffs. They should cover their win line.
Seattle is tied for the 12th-hardest schedule in 2023.
The Super Bowl hangover can be tough. The Rams may have been champions in 2021, but nobody would’ve known based on how the team played last season.
The 2022 season represented low points in almost every category for Sean McVay’s Rams, from points to yards and the inverse of that on the defensive side. McVay had his first losing season as a head coach, finishing 5-12 and third in the division.
With a win line of 6.5 at even odds across most books, Vegas is not counting on a big bounce-back season.
The offensive line took a huge step back, which saw Matthew Stafford get sacked 29 times in just nine games as he fought through injuries himself. Cooper Kupp still had an excellent season but was limited to 10 games due to a high ankle sprain. With no reliable offensive weapons elsewhere on the roster the offense collapsed. That is a depth issue the team still has.
Aaron Donald also took a small step back last season, recording just five sacks and 11 QB hits in 11 games. The sack total’s 17-game pace was a career-low, with his pace for QB hits not far behind. The Dolphins traded for Jalen Ramsey and Bobby Wagner — one of the few bright spots of 2022 — was released to alleviate cap space.
Los Angeles justifiably paid the piper for a Super Bowl. Without instant impact rookies or reinforcements in free agency due to salary restraints it’s hard to see the route to playoff football. Even when healthy Los Angeles was just 3-6 in games with Stafford, Donald and Kupp.
The Rams will try to fend off the ninth-hardest schedule in 2023.
The Cardinals were the only reason the Rams didn’t finish last in 2022. Chances are good history repeats itself in 2023.
Arizona has openly embraced a tanking strategy in 2022. Despite starting quarterback Kyler Murray likely to miss time into the season due to his ACL injury the team neglected to sign a quarterback besides bringing back backup Colt McCoy and drafting Houston’s Clayton Tune in the fifth round. Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins was also released in a way that had the Cardinals eat all $22.1 million dead cap in 2023 instead of spreading it into the future. The team also traded back in the first round to acquire an extra first-round pick next year.
With a thin offense at every position — lacking any standout players as well — it’ll be up to the defense to keep Arizona alive. That’s not going to go over well.
Head coach Jonathan Gannon led Philadelphia’s defense to 70 sacks last season, but he won’t see similar results with the Cardinals. Zaven Collins is likely switching from middle linebacker to the edge — like Haason Reddick did — which could work well given Collins’ size. But aside from Budda Baker at safety there’s just not enough talent on the roster.
With the 11th-hardest schedule in 2023 and the team’s eyes locked in on the NFL Draft already, the Cardinals will be a tough team to watch, let alone bet on.
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Michael Sicoli has been writing about fantasy football and betting within the NFL space since 2020. He works as a writer and content creator with ClubFantasyFFL and runs an NFL defensive (IDP) newsletter with The IDP Guys. A graduate from Quinnipiac University, Michael is a long-time NFL fan with a love for soccer and the NBA.More info on Michael Sicoli
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