Arizona Cardinals (2012: 5-11 SU, 7-8-1 ATS)
Odds to win division: +3600
Season win total: 5.5
Not much is expected from Arizona in 2013. And because
of that, the Cardinals will be undervalued in the pointspread all season. The Cardinals’ defense was decent enough to keep them in games last season, and
if they are able to improve some, Arizona may get some unexpected wins.
However, this team still has major question marks from top to bottom, and significant holes on both sides of the ball. The Cardinals will hand the starting quarterback role over to Carson Palmer, and he will get good coaching from Bruce Arians and Tom Moore. But unless Arizona’s awful offensive line improves significantly, all of the coaching won’t do Palmer any good. Arizona is in a very tough division, and we can’t envision them having a good win/loss record in 2013.
San Francisco 49ers (2012: 11-4-1 SU, 9-7 ATS)
Odds to win division: +110
Season win total: 11.5
We spoke highly of the San Francisco 49ers and their coaching staff last year. They are one of the best in the NFL, and we saw that when they made a trip to the Super Bowl with a young Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. San Francisco is loaded on both sides of the ball, especially their defense. The 49ers are in position to be the best team in the NFC once again and they are a certified Super Bowl contender in 2013.
San Francisco was flying well under the radar until they exploded the past two season with back-to-back appearances in the NFC Championship game, including a Super Bowl run last season. Everybody knows the 49ers are a good team now, and they will be popular with the public. The oddsmakers will have to put an extra tax on their lines which will often create negative pointspread value for the 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks (2012: 11-5 SU, 11-5 ATS)
Odds to win division: +110
Season win total: 10.5
Seattle is a youthful team that had 87% of their players from last season with three years or less of NFL experience. But that youth is extremely talented, and they take well to Pete Carroll’s style of coaching. Seattle’s offense is dynamic with quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch, and their #1 ranked defense held opponents to just 15.3 points per game in 2012. The Seahawks’ foundation is solid so they will be another good team representing the NFC West in 2013.
Seattle's biggest weakness remains on the offensive line as they’ve had a hard time filling their right tackle spot. Wilson was pressured on 39.2% of his plays which was the second highest rate in the league; that was mainly because of the leaky guard spot. And like the 49ers, the Seahawks will be a public favorite NFL pick. So they will hold negative value in the pointspread.
St. Louis Rams (2012: 7-8-1 SU, 11-5 ATS)
Odds to win division: +720
Season win total: 7.0
St. Louis will be much improved
in 2013. Head coach Jeff Fisher is an excellent game planner, and he
makes his team competitive even when they are out-classed. The Rams have
plenty of talent on hand this season, and Fisher’s ability to get the best out
of his team means we expect a competitive bunch. The Rams are led by a
strong defense that tied for the league lead with 52 sacks. They held
teams to a respectable 21.8 points per game, and with nine starters back, they
will be even better this year.
The Rams’ offense needs to score more points and quarterback Sam Bradford needs a healthy group of receivers to work with. Unfortunately for St. Louis, they play in a tough division with four games coming against the 49ers and Seahawks. Overall, the Rams play a brutal schedule; 6th toughest according to my rankings. Their win/loss record may not reflect improvement in 2013.
NFC West Prediction:
This division has perhaps the two best teams in the conference with the 49ers and Seahawks, and while both win totals are high, I would still expect both San Francisco and Seattle to go Over their betting odds totals for season wins.