NFC West division winner prediction 2022: Pick the 49ers and Cardinals over the Rams?

If you're betting on the NFC West division for the 2022 season, we recommended these futures bets for the Rams, 49ers, Cardinals, and Seahawks.

This year’s NFC West division features the still-stacked defending Super Bowl champs, a 2021 overachiever, a 2021 underachiever, and a post-dynastic franchise in limbo. Are the Rams still the class of this division? Can the Cardinals regroup after last year’s collapse? Will the 49ers be better than ever with their higher-upside QB? And can the Seahawks avoid enduring their worse season since 2009? Here are the NFL betting lines heading into 2022, as well as which team is most likely to claim the title.

NFC West divisional winner prediction for 2022

The following analysis is based on DraftKings’ “Team Futures” betting lines, including the odds as of Aug. 24, 2022. These odds could change during the preseason and assuredly will change in-season. For now, they are based on each team’s most likely win-loss record, beginning with the team with the worst odds.

Seattle Seahawks (+2000)

How much difference does a quarterback make? Last summer, Seattle was squarely in the conversation to win the NFC West. In fact, this was the only division with a greater than 1% probability of sending all four teams to the playoffs.

One year and one QB (or rather two QBs) later, the Seahawks are one of the league’s biggest long shots. Whether Drew Lock or Geno Smith draws more starts this year, the offense will take a noticeable step back. Kenneth Walker’s preseason surgery puts a lot more pressure on the oft-injured Rashaad Penny — although DeeJay Dallas remains my favorite darkhorse RB to make meaningful noise.

If the defense weren’t subpar, the Seahawks could be the Patriots of the NFC, focusing on time of possession and timely stops to stay competitive. Instead, Lock or Smith will be playing a lot of catchup, which doesn’t play to their strengths. Avoid betting on Seattle, even at their seemingly generous +2000 line.

Arizona Cardinals (+400)

If A.J. Green had turned around in the end zone in Week 8, Arizona probably would have remained undefeated until at least Week 10 and perhaps would have eked out a divisional win. But the seemingly unstoppable Cardinals rarely looked as dominant after that missed opportunity.

Injuries to Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins certainly hurt their cause. And Hopkins’ six-game suspension to begin 2022 is the definition of “getting off on the wrong foot,” especially for a long-time great who’s now 30 years old and potentially post-prime.

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I actually like Arizona’s odds. They’re a very complete team, and the addition of Marquise Brown should offset the loss of Christian Kirk. Rondale Moore is a fascinating X-factor, and I expect him to make major strides in Year 2. They luck out a bit by playing at home against teams that could have ended their title hopes if they’d been on the road: the Chiefs, Saints, Chargers, Patriots, and Bucs.

Road games against Carolina and Atlanta are very winnable. This is a 10-12 win team, depending on how they open the season against the Chiefs, Raiders, and Rams. A 2-1 start would put them well on their way to a successful season. I’d absolutely throw some money at the Cardinals winning the division.

San Francisco 49ers (+150)

How good is Trey Lance? The 49ers’ fate in 2022 rests largely on his shoulders (and legs and throwing arm). He could be the next Jalen Hurts or Lamar Jackson. And yes, he could end up being even better. Their betting line is almost equal to the Rams’, suggesting that oddsmakers see them as co-favorites to win the NFC West.

As we’ll see below, I don’t disagree. San Francisco was great last year, with Jimmy Garoppolo serving largely as a game manager. An ascending Brandon Aiyuk and a potentially healthier George Kittle — along with a deceptively deep backfield that doesn’t have to keep leaning on Elijah Mitchell — can build off of last year’s 10-7 record. They were good enough to take the Rams twice last year and nearly did it a third time in the NFC Conference Championship. Along with Arizona, San Francisco is the best bet to win this division.

Los Angeles Rams (+130)

It’s hard to bet against any defending Super Bowl champion, particularly one that looks just as strong (or perhaps stronger) heading into the next season. However, my research suggests a major regression from Cooper Kupp is likely. Cam Akers has extraordinary potential and might benefit from some load management to keep him healthy for the postseason. And Allen Robinson was a brilliant addition, helping to offset the loss of Robert Woods (and, for now, Odell Beckham).

But I can’t get past Matthew Stafford’s elbow tendinitis. Is it just “interesting” news that won’t materially impact this team’s approach? Or will it hamper him? Will this team be forced to start John Wolford for a couple of games?

Every team deals with what-ifs. But three of the Rams’ top four offensive playmakers enter this season either rebounding from injury-riddled 2021 seasons or managing higher-than-normal injury risks. That shouldn’t endear us to their unappealing betting line. And with road games against the Bucs, Saints, Chiefs, Packers, and Chargers, it’s not hard to envision this team as a borderline playoff contender at 10-7.

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