The NFC West is most likely once again going to go to the Los Angeles Rams barring some sort of immense collapse. The intrigue though is pretty deep with Jimmy Garoppolo back leading the San Francisco 49ers and Kyler Murray bringing a very mysterious offense to the Arizona Cardinals. Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks are lurking in the background, but seem to be somewhat of a shell of their former selves. Still, LA is the best squad and it'll be a shock if the Rams don't win. Let's take a look at the Westgate's thoughts on this division.
Over 5 wins -140...Under 5 wins +120
Offense: The biggest mystery in football resides in Arizona with Kliff Kingsbury coming to the NFL after getting fired by Texas Tech and introducing his version of the Air Raid offense. Basically, the offense will be run from the shotgun with a lot of quick looks and attempts to find mismatches. Kyler Murray is the right guy to try and run it so dealing Josh Rosen away makes sense. David Johnson seems like he'll be pretty busy especially since he's caught a lot of passes out of the backfield. Larry Fitzgerald will get peppered with targets being the veteran of this group but Christian Kirk intrigues me as well as rookies KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella. This offense could be a lot of fun if they get just a little blocking up front.
Defense: This side of the ball saw a lot of turnover with Robert Alford, Jordan Hicks, Brooks Reed and Terrell Suggs coming in and Antoine Bethea, Tre Boston, Marcus Golden, and Deone Bucannon all leaving. It'll be interesting to see what kind of veteran influence Suggs has on this group. The linebacking group is pretty solid if Haason Reddick can take the next step and Hicks can stay healthy. Patrick Peterson and Alford aren't a bad cornerback duo with D.J. Swearinger and Budda Baker at safety. This group is probably one year away from being really good because there are pieces in place.
Verdict: The Cardinals better start fast during the early stretch of four home games over their first six. After that stretch is one with four road games over five weeks before the late Week 12 bye. It's a very streaky slate with three straight at home then two on the road to close things out. Arizona hosts Pittsburgh and Cleveland but has to travel to Baltimore. I think six to eight wins are possible so give me the over even at that price.
Over 10.5 wins +120...Under 10.5 wins -140
Offense: No matter who you talk to, people think Sean McVay is a genius. His offense didn't show up in the Super Bowl, but pretty much all of the weapons are back. Jared Goff is coming off a 32-TD pass season with 12 interceptions. He's got probably the best WR trio in the NFL in Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp, who should be getting back to form after tearing his ACL. The big question is if Todd Gurley's chronic knee problems will give him problems at all in 2019. The offensive line has lost a few pieces, which could be a big deal considering the starting group hadn't missed a game due to injury over two seasons. The sleeper of this side of the ball is Darrell Henderson, the team's third-round draft pick out of Memphis.
Defense: Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle are the key new additions on this side of the ball following the departures of Mark Barron and Lamarcus Joyner, as well as Ndamukong Suh. Aaron Donald is a beast and will continue to be one. The linebacking corps needs Micah Kiser and some of the other young guys to take the next step. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are back at corner with Nickell Robey-Coleman probably manning the slot. Robey-Coleman is rather infamous, but I'll let you figure out why. Will there be a Super Bowl hangover here?
Verdict: The Rams alternate road and home games for a lot of the first half of their schedule. They have road trips to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Dallas to contend with, but Baltimore, Chicago and New Orleans all have to make the trip to the West Coast. I'm not the biggest Goff guy so I think there will be some slight regression here. The under is probably worth a look, but not at this price.
Over 8 wins -140...Under 8 wins +120
Offense: Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy and that's really important considering what's behind him on the depth chart. Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard aren't capable of winning long term and who knows if both will make it through the preseason. The running back group has some potential with the likes of Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert. The team just has to find the right combination and get the right people enough carries. George Kittle is still the most dangerous weapon in the passing game at the tight end position because the wide receivers just don't scare you that much. Rookies Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel bring some youthful excitement and Marquise Goodwin is really fast but who else scares you?
Defense: The defense made some key additions this offseason with Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, and Jason Verrett coming over. Each of them will bring key contributions to all three levels of the defense. Verrett and Richard Sherman make for a stout cornerback duo if Sherman still has anything left. We'll see what Nick Bosa's ankle injury does to him and how much it sets him back. This will put more pressure on the former Oregon guys Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner to make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. The Niners are building something here, but they need some of their young guys to take the next step.
Verdict: The Niners have an early bye in Week 4. Before then they've got two road games and a home contest against the Steelers. San Francisco has three straight at home in November, but then gets the brutal road trips to Baltimore and New Orleans. Somehow this team got two home "Monday Night Football" games. I don't know why as I don't have a lot of hope for these 49ers. Getting to .500 would be a shock for me.
Over 8.5 wins -120...Under 8.5 wins EVEN
Offense: The biggest thing you will notice is who is not here and that's Doug Baldwin at wide receiver. All the injuries finally caught up to him and he decided to hang it up. This means it's Tyler Lockett and potentially DK Metcalf who will have to pick things up, as the primary targets. Russell Wilson's got his usual cast of characters in the backfield with Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise. The biggest question as always is with an offensive line that allowed 51 sacks last year. Can this group keep Wilson upright and continue to open up running lanes?
Defense: Another veteran is gone in Earl Thomas who left and joined the Ravens defense. He was the last link to the Legion of Boom. Now the secondary has the likes of Shaq Griffin, Tre Flowers, Bradley McDougald, and Tedric Thompson. That's a far cry from what it used to be. All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner is back along with K.J. Wright and that's a ton of tackles from the middle level. Another change comes at kicker where Jason Myers went 33-for-36 on field goals for the Jets last season.
Verdict: The Seahawks alternate home and road games all the way until their Week 11 bye in the middle of November. After that, they've got three of four on the road with the final two games coming at home against the Cardinals and 49ers. This team screams 8-8 in my book. They've got some strengths and are always in it with Wilson under center, but there are also some holes as well.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
(Top photo courtesy of therams.com)