NFC West odds, picks and predictions: Rams are favorites, but barely ahead of 49ers

Cameron DaSilva
Sportsbook Wire

When looking across the NFL ahead of the 2021 season, the NFC West seems to stand out as the best division in football. All four teams are legitimate playoff contenders if healthy, largely because of the collection of quarterbacks. Predicting a winner will be difficult, as all four teams have the talent to make a deep playoff run. Below, we look at the odds to win the NFC West in the 2021 season, with NFL picks, predictions and best bets.

The Seattle Seahawks are the defending champions after going 12-4 last season, earning the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs. However, their time in the postseason didn't last long. They lost to the rival Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round despite being at home.

The Rams finished 10-6 and earned a wild-card berth as the No. 6 seed for their third trip to the playoffs in four seasons with head coach Sean McVay at the helm. They edged out the Arizona Cardinals by two games in the division, with Arizona finishing third at 8-8.

Rounding out the NFC West was the San Francisco 49ers, who battled injuries all year and finished 6-10. They went 13-3 in 2019 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl, so last season was a major disappointment.

2021 NFC West picks

Odds via Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports' betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Los Angeles Rams: +180 (bet $100 to win $180)

The Rams are the favorites to win the NFC West this season, but only slightly. The arrival of QB Matthew Stafford makes them a team that could contend for a Super Bowl, while the defense still looks stout despite losing several key players from last year's top-ranked unit.

The loss of RB Cam Akers to a torn Achilles hurts, but with RB Darrell Henderson now leading the backfield, the Rams are still in good shape at the position.

When it comes to this division, I like the Rams as the team to beat because of their stability at quarterback and the depth they have at wide receiver. They're a safe bet to have a successful season if healthy.

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San Francisco 49ers: +185 (bet $100 to win $185)

The 49ers are poised to bounce back from a difficult 2020 campaign derailed by major injuries. DE Nick Bosa is back, the offensive line looks great on paper, the linebacker unit is among the best in the NFL and the ground game is expected to be a catalyst, especially with rookie RB Trey Sermon joining the mix.

The biggest question in San Francisco is who will play quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo is the steady veteran, but rookie Trey Lance is coming for his job and looked like an absolute playmaker in the preseason opener.

The 49ers have a good chance to make the playoffs, but beating the Rams for the division crown will be difficult.

Seattle Seahawks: +240 (bet $100 to win $240)

The Seahawks used to be carried by a dominant defense, which was complemented by QB Russell Wilson and a strong running game. That's no longer the case and most of the team's success falls on Wilson's shoulders.

As excellent as Wilson is, there are too many concerns in Seattle, particularly along the offensive line and on defense. The defense struggled last season, particularly against the pass, and that's a recipe for disaster in the NFC West. I would pass on taking the Seahawks to repeat as division champs.

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Arizona Cardinals: +550 (bet $100 to win $550)

Arizona reloaded this offseason, bringing in WR A.J. Green, CB Malcolm Butler, DE J.J. Watt and trading for C Rodney Hudson. With QB Kyler Murray on the verge of stardom, Arizona has a shot to take a major leap in the right direction this year, so long as all of those veterans can A) stay healthy and B) meet expectations.

The offensive line should be much better this year with Hudson in the middle, and protecting Murray will be critical. With better blocking and an improvement in the secondary, the Cardinals could be threats in the NFC West. At +550, they're worth a small wager.

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