2015 NFL Football Betting – NFC West Preview
The NFL season is closer, to the point that training camps have begun and the first preseason game is this next Sunday night. A number of things are happening in the league, and some of them concern the NFC West.
NFC West Preview
This is a division which is undergoing a lot of change in the lower half, where teams will likely jockey for second and third place and see if they can squeeze a wild card berth out of the coming season. The San Francisco 49ers begin a new era with head coach Jim Tomsula, the successor to Jim Harbaugh, who led the team to three straight NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl appearance, but was then undercut by the team’s front office. The Niners’ owner and general manager both wanted to pick their own guy because they felt Harbaugh was upstaging them and getting too much of the credit for what the organization was achieving. The Niners might seem like a victim in all this, but they wanted Harbaugh gone. Now they’ll hope that Tomsula can get this team to the playoffs and vindicate them. It won’t be easy, though. Lots of players have either left the team to go elsewhere (Frank Gore to the Indianapolis Colts as an example) or have retired. Anthony Davis, a premier offensive tackle, retired at age 25. He could return in 2016, but that’s his decision to make, and it does San Francisco absolutely no good in the present moment. Chris Borland, a fine linebacker, has retired. So have veteran linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith. All these losses are going to erode the team’s depth, while also hurting in terms of leadership. The overall effect is that the Niners will find it harder to play the physical style they used under Harbaugh. They need to play with more tempo, and that’s something Tomsula has emphasized in training camp.
The St. Louis Rams have had a hard time cracking the top two in the NFC West, but they now have Nick Foles, an arrival from Philadelphia in the deal which sent longtime St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford to the Eagles. If Foles is the quarterback he was in 2013, when he led the Eagles to the playoffs, the Rams could make the playoffs as well. Their defensive front four is going to be nasty, especially now that Nick Fairley is in the fold. The changes the Rams have made are upgrades, whereas the Niners’ changes make them worse.
The Arizona Cardinals, it is easy to forget, had a 9-1 record after 10 games last season and a three-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks. Then Carson Palmer got hurt, and the season spun away from the team. Arizona could easily win the division this year if it finds the same defense-and-running-game recipe it developed last season. The only problem with the Cardinals is that they played a lot of close games when they were winning. If they can’t find more of a passing offense, they might lose those close ones instead of winning them.
The favorite should still be the Seattle Seahawks, who just locked up Russell Wilson to a four-year deal at quarterback. A key concern lies in the secondary, where safety Earl Thomas will miss all of the preseason with the injury he suffered late last season. He might miss the season opener and could be playing catch-up throughout September if not longer. Yet, the Seahawks have so many other pieces on their defense that they can still hold their own until certain guys get healthy. They have earned the right to be called the division favorite.