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Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after beating the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field as we look at our NFC West betting picks.
Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after beating the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP.

The San Francisco 49ers are well-positioned to rise to the top of the NFC West again. But can the Seattle Seahawks keep closing the gap? And will the Los Angeles Rams rebound? Let's dive in with our NFC West betting preview from our best sports betting apps.

Recency bias would have us believing that the San Francisco 49ers were a steamrolling NFC West behemoth throughout 2022, and the same all-around talented group set to dominate the division in 2023.

But they were perfectly average after a 3-4 start. Then Christian McCaffrey entered, and they didn't lose another matchup until multiple quarterbacks combusted during the NFC title game. Now McCaffrey is in San Francisco to start the season, and wounds have been healed in the quarterback room with Brock Purdy and Trey Lance healthy, and Sam Darnold joining the mix.

A gifted and deep Niners team is the class of the division, and a title contender in the conference. But the surprising Seattle Seahawks are ready to take another step after reinforcing their defense during the offseason and plugging in wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and the Los Angeles Rams still boast a reliable enough veteran core to be a problem

Oh and also, the Arizona Cardinals play in the NFC West.

Check out our 2023 NFC West betting preview based on the odds from our best NFL betting sites (pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale). 

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NFC West betting preview 2023

San Francisco 49ers to win NFC West (-160 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Team to win divisionDraftKingsFanDuelBetMGMCaesarsbet365

The Seahawks will present the only real challenge to the 49ers in the NFC West, and one that should ultimately fall short.

Yes, the Seahawks have often played San Francisco tough, and especially at Lumen Field. And Seattle has made key defensive additions that should bolster a league-worst run defense. But questions still linger around their defense, and particularly a pass rush that Uchenna Nwosu and Darrel Taylor led in 2022 while tied with just 9.5 sacks.

Meanwhile, the 49ers remain loaded. There's still some uncertainty at a rather important position, but the team boasts ample weaponry to support the inexperienced Purdy, and also a smothering defense. The Niners are fresh off leading the league in points allowed at 16.3 per game, and they finished sixth in points offensively with 26.5 per outing.

They're also now set to get a full season out of McCaffery, if he can stay healthy after playing his fourth complete campaign in 2022 over six years in the league. He averaged 110 yards from scrimmage for the 49ers after being acquired prior to the trade deadline last season.

George Kittle Over 5.5 receiving touchdowns (+110 via Caesars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The greatest joy in George Kittle's life seems to be making defenders deeply examine the ground. He plays like a dad frantically searching for keys while getting his kids out the door, barreling over everything in his path.

That punishing spirit combined with soft hands and quality route running often results in plenty of yardage (three seasons with 900-plus yards), though sometimes not as much scoring because the Niners rely on Kittle's quality run-blocking ability near the goal line. However, that changed in 2022 when the 49ers shifted to Purdy, and the rookie was magnetized to Kittle.

Purdy started the final five games for San Francisco in 2022 and was under center for most of Week 12, accumulate 170 pass attempts. Kittle scored seven touchdowns then, setting a new single-season career high during that stretch alone. He finished with 11 receiving scores total in 2022, tying for third leaguewide. And now the Purdy-Kittle connection will be firing right away in Week 1.

Kittle also received 24.6% of the 49ers' red-zone targets in 2022, tying him with Brandon Aiyuk for the team lead.

Cooper Kupp to record 1,500-plus receiving yards (+300 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐

Kupp is the lynchpin of a dangerously thin Los Angeles Rams offense. Everything will run through him, and that very much includes the garbage-time eruptions for a team that will need to mount plenty of comeback attempts.

The shifty Pro Bowler is just one season removed from being named Offensive Player of the Year after falling just shy of setting a single-season record with 1,947 receiving yards. He then kept on chugging in 2022 while posting five games with 100-plus yards over his nine contests before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

Kupp was on pace in 2022 to top the 1,500-yard mark again after averaging 90.2 yards per game. Now Allen Robinson is gone, and there's no significant competition for targets holding back a wideout who was given a whopping 10.9 looks per game this past season, a pace that put him ahead of NFL target leader Justin Jefferson. Kupp also isn't far removed from leading the NFL in targets during 2021 at 191, and there was a cavernous divide between him and the rest (two receivers tied for second at 169).

D.K. Metcalf Over 73.5 receptions (-112 via FanDuel)

Nothing was set up for Metcalf to thrive in 2022. Offensive growing pains seemed certain for the Seahawks immediately following Russell Wilson's departure, and Seattle's offense is still a run-focused unit.

And yet there was Metcalf, racking up a career single-season high 90 receptions.

It took a bit of time for him to gel with new signal-caller Geno Smith. But soon the NFL's bounding Michelin man resumed being the target hog we've come to know. He received double-digit targets in five games, and finished tied for 12th leaguewide with 141.

That was a career high too, and shiny new first-round receiver Smith-Njigba will surely eat into Metcalf's target volume to some degree. But he's too large of a target to resist, and Metcalf is versatile enough to take the punishment up the middle while also able to beat defensive backs deep on the outside. That's why the Over has hit on this receptions total during three of his four seasons.

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