NFL Divisional Futures-NFC West
The NFC West is only two seasons removed from sending a team to the playoffs with a losing record, however last year San Francisco emerged as not only the dominant team in the division, but a legitimate contender to win it all.
San Francisco 49ers -250
The 49ers remain the class of the division, but the gap between this team and the rest of the competitors in the NFC West may not be as wide as the current odds suggest. Everything went right for Jim Harbaugh in his first season as head coach and the fact that his team will not sneak up on anyone this year will make duplicating its 13-3 record a chore. Alex Smith could easily revert back to his old form at quarterback and the San Francisco defense may be hard-pressed to generate the 42 turnovers it did in 2011.
Seattle Seahawks +400
Seattle is banking heavily on its acquisition of Matt Quinn from Green Bay to be the long-term answer at quarterback, but he is still battling with Tarvaris Jackson and rookie Russell Wilson for the starting job. It is also dealing with some off field issues surrounding Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch that could spill over into the regular season in the form of a league suspension. The one plus for the Seahawks is a vastly improved defense that ended last season ranked ninth in total yards allowed and seventh in points allowed.
Arizona Cardinals +700
If Kevin Kolb or John Skelton can step-up and firmly take the reins as Arizona’s starting quarterback, there could be some tremendous value in this team’s current odds to win the NFC West. The Cardinals added wide receiver Michael Floyd in the first round of the draft to go along with perennial All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald. They will need to continue to tighten things up on a defense that gave-up an average of 21.8 points a game. An encouraging 5-1 run to close-out last season, including victories over both Seattle and San Francisco, has this team clearly pointed in the right direction.
St. Louis Rams +1000
The Rams have been the doormat in the West for quite some time now and actually took a step backwards last season after injuries devastated a roster that was already extremely thin in depth. They have a couple of major pieces in place to compete in this division, but everything would have to fall perfectly into place for them to actually win it. All eyes will be on third-year quarterback Sam Bradford, who showed tremendous promise as a rookie in 2010 but suffered through inconsistency and injury last year. St. Louis still has Steven Jackson running the ball and Chris Long leading a defense that was ranked seventh in the NFL against the pass in 2011. Unfortunately, the Rams would have to quickly fill quite a few more holes on both sides of the ball to make a serious run at the division title this season.
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