The arms race in the NFC West got so much tighter when the Rams acquired Matthew Stafford from the Lions. He joins Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson as quarterbacks in the division with the 49ers potentially in a great spot if Trey Lance develops. To me, the team in this group of four that wins the most road divisional games is going to be the champion and you can almost make a case for any of them to do so. All this means there is some value, especially in the division title odds.
2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Arizona Cardinals (Over 8.5 +105...Under 8.5 -125)
Division Champion Odds: +600
Offense: DeAndre Hopkins racked up 115 receptions last year in this offense, which was more than double Larry Fitzgerald, who seems likely headed to retirement. We'll see what Hopkins can do for a sequel with Kyler Murray under center. He accounted for 28 touchdowns on the ground and through the air combined. Arizona also added A.J. Green to the mix, but the veteran hasn't performed as well towards the end of his career. The run game swapped out Kenyan Drake for former Steeler James Conner. Drake's departure means that Chase Edmonds probably escalates to No. 1 RB with Conner getting a ton of work too. The offensive line got a boost in acquiring center Rodney Hudson from Las Vegas. He's one of the best in football.
Defense: For the second straight season, Arizona picked up a former Houston Texans star as J.J. Watt made his way over to the Cardinals. Watt is going to be huge for this defense, adding to a pass rush that also features Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. I'm excited to see what the first-round pick Zaven Collins can do after being a terror for Tulsa last year. The front seven should be very strong and there's some depth behind the starters as well. The biggest question marks are with the secondary with Patrick Peterson now in Minnesota. Byron Murphy Jr. and Robert Alford will man the cornerback spots. Alford has missed the past two seasons because of injuries, so it'll be interesting to see how he fares after such a long absence. A consistent pass rush will help the remade secondary.
Schedule Notes: Four of the team's first six games are on the road and only two of those contests are divisional matchups. The Cardinals get to host the Packers just four days after a home game against the Texans. Arizona's final five games go this way – Rams, at Lions, Colts, at Cowboys, Seahawks.
Prediction: I come up with eight or nine wins so no play.
Related: Arizona Cardinals Depth Chart
Los Angeles Rams (Over 10.5 +120...Under 10.5 -140)
Division Champion Odds: +200
Offense: We'll finally see how good Matthew Stafford really is. He put up very good numbers for the Lions, but he also had a terrible record in games against teams with winning records. He has no shortage of weapons especially at WR with the additions of DeSean Jackson and rookie Tutu Atwell to Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Now Jackson has had a massive issue with staying healthy lately, but there's no doubt he makes a difference on the field. The question marks come in the backfield after the loss of Cam Akers (Achilles) before training camp. Los Angeles acquired Sony Michel from New England to complement Darrell Henderson Jr. in the backfield. We'll see what they can get from this group.
Defense: The defense has talent on every level led by three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. A'Shawn Robinson is solid up front too. Leonard Floyd added 10.5 sacks last year and leads a decent group of LBs who are young in spots. Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams were two of the top 10 CBs in opposing passer rating when being thrown at. Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp are a young duo at safety, but they flashed some potential last season. All in all, this is the best defense in the division and one of the best in football.
Schedule Notes: The Rams get a big early test as they host the Buccaneers on Sept. 26. It's part of an early stretch of three of four at home. After a Week 11 bye, the Rams travel to the Packers, Cardinals, Vikings and Ravens over a rough closing stretch.
Prediction: At +120 I can make a case for the over. The Rams should be tough in their new building that will finally have fans in it.
Related: Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart
San Francisco 49ers (Over 10.5 EVEN...Under 10.5 -120)
Division Champion Odds: +190
Offense: Jimmy Garoppolo may start the season under center, but any sort of prolonged struggle will lead to a switch to rookie Trey Lance. It's a full house backfield once again with Raheem Mostert and rookie Trey Sermon leading the way, but JaMycal Hasty may get some carries as well. The WR group is mediocre in my mind, although Brandon Aiyuk had the most catches for a rookie wideout in franchise history. Of course, it's a big help to have tight end George Kittle who can seemingly always get open. The offensive line is strong with Alex Mack coming from Atlanta to be the center.
Defense: We'll see what this side of the ball does with former coordinator Robert Saleh now the Jets' head coach. Taking over is DeMeco Ryans who has not done this job before. He's got plenty of talent as Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford form a solid group of defensive ends up front. The linebackers are strong with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, the team's top two tacklers last year. The cornerback group could be better, but the team did address the position in the draft and it looks like Ambry Thomas could see plenty of time. I love the safeties in Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.
Schedule Notes: San Francisco spends the first two weeks of the season on the road in Detroit and in Philadelphia, but has two of the next three at home before an early Week 6 bye. There's some balance later on with a stretch of three of four at home followed by three of four on the road. The regular-season finale in LA against the Rams could be for playoff seeding purposes, if not more.
Prediction: The over is a good bet. This schedule is very manageable which means Jimmy G may stick around for awhile.
Related: San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart
Seattle Seahawks (Over 10 -110...Under 10 -110)
Division Champion Odds: +280
Offense: One can never count out Russell Wilson especially since he's got a new offensive coordinator (Shane Waldron) and seems to be happy with what he's hearing. Wilson continues to play solid football especially after 40 touchdown passes in 2020. He's got his usual cast at WRs led by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Both receivers went over 1,000 yards in 2020 and don't show signs of slowing down. Getting guard Gabe Jackson from the Raiders will help in protecting Wilson, but left tackle Duane Brown's contract stance could hurt the OL. Chris Carson is the lead back, but of course, we could see several others get carries.
Defense: Bobby Wagner's recovery from a knee procedure is important for a defense that saw some shuffling in free agency. The defensive line is underwhelming when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback while the linebacker group has some holes as well. There's none of those at safety with Jamal Adams fresh off a contract extension and Quandre Diggs. The two may have to erase some mistakes with a potential CB group that could have problems.
Schedule Notes: Early road trips to Indianapolis and Pittsburgh could tell the story for the Seahawks who also have to go to Minnesota and San Francisco before a Week 9 bye. The team has two of the final three at home which is good because it comes after a stretch of four of six on the road.
Prediction: I have the least amount of faith in this team of the big three in this division. I think the under is worth a look here.
Related: Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart