The NFC West was the best division in the NFL last season and fielded the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. The Arizona Cardinals got off to a hot start where they were the last team to lose a game in the regular season and made the playoffs, and the San Francisco 49ers clinched a postseason berth after a late run. The NFC West was the only division to field three playoff teams in 2021. Can they do it again?
The division is going to look a bit different in 2022. The Cardinals won’t have DeAndre Hopkins for six games due to suspension, the 49ers have a new quarterback in Trey Lance and the Seattle Seahawks parted ways with Russell Wilson. As for the Rams, will they be able to replicate their success from last season, or was the 2021 campaign something unique? It’s hard to repeat as champions in the NFL.
Below, we will take a look at the win totals for the NFC West and explain which direction we are leaning. One thing to keep in mind as we go through this list is that the NFC West faces off against the other toughest division in the NFL in the AFC West. Let’s jump in.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
Win total projection: 9 (Over +110, Under -130)
Cardinals fans are probably baffled by this line considering this team started 7-0 last year and Kyler Murray looked like the MVP frontrunner for half the season. Arizona finished 11-6 last year and made the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Cardinals have improved their win total by three games in each of the last two seasons under Kliff Kingsbury, so why shouldn’t we expect them to be a contender again?
Well, there are a couple of reasons. The Cardinals are known for their hot starts and rough finishes. The Cardinals lost four out of their last five regular-season games last year, and then were absolutely crushed by the Rams in the playoffs. Not having Hopkins is going to be something that could hinder Arizona in the beginning of the season.
In looking at the Cardinals’ schedule, how they fare after the bye will decide whether the Over or Under hits. Beginning in Week 14, the Cardinals get the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and then the 49ers to close out the year. That’s pretty rough. The way I look at it, I don’t think there’s a ton of value with this line. There’s clearly money on the Under, and that’s where my lean is, as well. I like the push potential, but I don’t feel comfortable betting on this team with big questions left to be answered. Is Murray going to improve in 2022? Is Marquise Brown going to break out? Is this defense going to be solid?
The pick: Under 9 (-130)
Los Angeles Rams
Win total projection: 10.5 (Over -120, Under +100)
Rams fans have taken a liking to me. I made L.A. Over 10.5 wins at +105 a best bet last year and also said to take the Rams at +1300 to win the Super Bowl back on Feb. 8, 2021. I was so on fire when it came to the Rams, I even correctly predicted they would win the Super Bowl by exactly three points when the big week arrived.
Now that I’ve negotiated my new contract with my superiors, I can tell you I’m taking the Rams to go Over again in 2022. It’s true that they have what is seen as the toughest schedule in the NFL, but the Rams are one of the best teams in the NFL. It doesn’t take an expert to see they are set on repeating. Sean McVay is back, Aaron Donald is back, Cooper Kupp is extended and then the front office went out and signed Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson. For all we know, Odell Beckham Jr. may be back in the fold, too. Caesars Sportsbook also has the Rams winning the NFC West at plus money. Go ahead and take that as well.
The pick: Over 10.5 (-120)
San Francisco 49ers
Win total projection: 10 (Over -110, Under -110)
The Rams were my Super Bowl value pick last year and the 49ers are my value pick this year. It’s much more of a hot take considering we knew who Matthew Stafford was as opposed to Trey Lance, but if the second-year signal-caller is an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo, this team will have a chance. Interestingly enough, the 49ers winning the Super Bowl isn’t too hot of a take. According to Caesars, the 49ers have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all! That’s wild considering we don’t know what we will get out of the new QB.
While the 49ers are my Super Bowl value pick, that does not mean I think they will fly over their win total. There’s a big difference between taking a Super Bowl flier vs. betting a win total — especially in San Francisco’s case. Before the 49ers’ Week 9 bye in 2022, I think a 4-4 record is not only possible, but likely. Then, they could play their best football down the stretch — much like they did last year.
Go ahead and try to predict week-by-week the 49ers’ schedule. I think Vegas absolutely nailed this win total at 10. San Fran won 10 games last year, and it may be too much to ask it to win 11 in a year where the 49ers play the two toughest divisions in the NFL. My prediction is Lance will look much better in the second half of the season compared to the first.
Personally, I wouldn’t bet this total. I see something like a 10-7 final record with the team getting hot at the end. I think 11 wins may be optimistic, so while I believe the 49ers are a Super Bowl sleeper, I don’t love the Over on win total. The AFC got much better this offseason, which could allow for Kyle Shanahan and Co. to earn a postseason berth as a wild card.
The pick: Under 10 (-110)
Win total projection: 6 (Over +100, Under -120)
The Seahawks Under six wins is a best bet of mine. Life without Russ is going to be tough, especially if Pete Carroll is set on marching forward with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock. Adding Baker Mayfield could be something that hurts my Under bet, but I’m still fairly confident in this wager. With the NFC West, AFC West and the Buccaneers on the schedule, that’s at least 11 games where the Seahawks should not be favored.
The pick: Under 6 (-120)