Sean McVay brought excitement into the NFL but has taken it out of the NFC West race, with the Los Angeles Rams winning a combined 24 games and two division titles in the past two years.
The rest of the division is catching up, and bettors are eyeing one team in particular to make a sizable leap in the NFC.
After winning four games last year, the San Francisco 49ers have become a favorite of fans and bettors alike this offseason. Their division odds have been slashed from 7-1 to 4-1 at the Westgate LV SuperBook, and their NFC title odds have moved from 25-1 to 20-1.
Don’t forget about the Seattle Seahawks, though, after a 10-win season in Year 1 of an offensive reinvention. Even the Arizona Cardinals are frisky, though their 2019 potential will likely fall short of bettors’ expectations.
Here are the best bets, value plays, and picks to avoid in the NFC West for 2019.
(Over prices in parentheses)
|TEAM||WIN TOTAL||NFC WEST ODDS||SUPER BOWL ODDS|
Odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
Cardinals under 5 wins (6-5)
This might be the least fun bet in the entire NFL, especially with how exciting Kliff Kingsbury’s offense projects to be with No. 1 pick Kyler Murray leading the way. Yet, the Cardinals face a tough road to six wins with a rookie QB, a shaky offensive line, and one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Somehow, despite finishing with the worst record in 2018, Arizona faces one of the league’s tougher schedules in 2019. The Cardinals weren’t favored in the opening lines of any of their 16 games, and they might go the entire season without giving points if they stumble early – which feels inevitable in Murray’s first few starts.
Teams have had success with rookie quarterbacks as of late, but those teams had a much stronger infrastructure than Arizona does. Don’t fall for the trap – take the plus-money value on maybe the NFL’s worst team.
Rams to win the Super Bowl (10-1)
Let’s address the red flags first. Todd Gurley is clearly hurt; Jared Goff stumbled late last year and could regress; the defense was inconsistent and lost key pieces this offseason; The Super Bowl hangover looms for this team.
It’s no wonder the Rams’ Super Bowl odds have gone from 6-1 in January – shortest of any team – to 10-1, tied for third behind the Patriots (6-1) and Chiefs (6-1). Yet we’re hunting for value, not certainty, and 10-1 odds on the reigning NFC champs is too good to pass up.
Los Angeles’ backfield may actually be better in 2019 with Gurley aided by Memphis dynamo Darrell Henderson. Goff’s second-half slump ties with the injury of Cooper Kupp, who has bounce-back campaign written all over him. The defense added Pro Bowler Eric Weddle and linebacker Clay Matthews and still boasts reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
And that Super Bowl hangover that always knocks out the runner-up? The Patriots just beat these Rams after losing in the championship game the year before. Sign me up at 10-1 for the best team in the NFC and maybe the entire league.
Bet to avoid
49ers to win the NFC West (4-1)
You know the team that everybody says is “under the radar” until, you know, they’re firmly on the radar? This year, it’s the 49ers, who seem destined to improve but to an uncertain degree.
The Niners’ offense was supposed to boom under Kyle Shanahan in 2018, but injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and seemingly every running back on the roster gave way to a four-win season. That side of the ball should be better, but what suggests San Fran’s battered offensive corps will avoid re-injury in 2019? And what about that miserable defense, ranked 32nd by Pro Football Focus?
Bettors have already sucked the value out of the 49ers’ odds to win the division and conference, and this team isn’t ready to win the Super Bowl. If you’re sold on a Niners run, bet them to make the playoffs (12-5), but don’t jump the gun on a division crown.
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