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2020 Betting Review: NFC West

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2020 Betting Review: NFC West

I wanted to do quick-hitting postmortem reports on every team since I spent so much time — and about 2000 words — breaking down all 32 franchises from a betting perspective this summer. These articles also gave me a chance to do a full accounting of all my off-season/preseason Best Bets. Here were the overall results for my NFL Futures with individual results for each NFC East team below.

NFL Futures

For a full rundown of my NFL Futures from the off-season/preseason click here.

  • OVERALL BEST BETS — 27-27 (+15.51 units)

  • Season Wins — 8-0 (+11.98 units)

  • Season Player Props — 7-8 (-2.47 units)

  • Season Futures — 4-11 (+1.91 units)

  • Draft Props — 8-7 (+4.09 units)

  • Every Team Season Wins — 20-12 (62.5%)

NFC West Reviews

*Playoff team*

1. *Seattle Seahawks (12-4, 8-8 ATS)*

  • Division Odds: +220

  • Playoff Odds: -160

  • Best Bets: To make the playoffs -122 (win, +.82 units)

  • Leans: Over 9.5 wins (win, 12-4)

What went right

The Seahawks started 5-0 for the first time in franchise history with Russell Wilson and this offense cooking, and their hot start propelled them to their first division title since 2016. They also had their most wins in a season (12) since 2014, and they did it while being the only team that didn’t have a player test positive for COVID-19 this season. Second-year WR D.K. Metcalf took the next step in his progression to becoming one of the league’s most dominant WRs. D.K. posted 83/1303/10 receiving for the season and he did his part to keep the Seahawks competitive in their Wild Card Round defeat to the Rams with 5/96/2 receiving. The Seahawks also may have landed their centerpiece defender for the future when they sent a package involving two first-round picks to the Jets for S Jamal Adams before the start of the season.

What went wrong

Russ and the Seahawks’ offense got off to a blistering start this season before ending the year with a whimper. Wilson threw for 28 touchdowns through Week 9 (eight games) and Seattle led the league by averaging 34.3 points per game in that span. Russ and the offense cooled off significantly in the second half of the year as he threw for just 12 scores in his final eight games while Seattle averaged just 23.1 points per game. Seattle’s defense turned a corner in the back half of the schedule after allowing 30.4 points per game and 455.8 total yards per game through Week 9. Seattle’s offensive downturn culminated in the Seahawks losing their first home playoff game under Pete Carroll after their 12-4 regular season — they were previously 6-0 at home in his 11 seasons. Wilson completed just 40.7% of his passes in the loss, and his 11 completions were his fewest in a game since the 2018 season.

The game they stole

The Seahawks and the Vikings played in a rollercoaster game in Week 5. Minnesota jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead before the Seahawks scored 21 consecutive points in less than a two-minute span in the third quarter. The Vikings answered back with 13 more unanswered points, and they owned a 96.9% win probability with less than three minutes left in the game. Holding a five-point lead coming out of the two-minute warning, Mike Zimmer tried to ice the game by converting a fourth-and-1 at the Seattle six-yard line. Seattle’s defense stuffed Alexander Mattison short of the line to gain, and Wilson marched the Seahawks right down the field with Metcalf scoring the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds left in their 27-26 victory.

The game that got away

The Seahawks played in some wild games (and some of 2020’s best games) early in the season, including their 37-34 overtime loss to the Cardinals in Week 7. The game got flexed into Sunday Night Football because of COVID-19 issues with the Raiders, and it took nearly 70 minutes to decide a winner with Zane Gonzalez kicking the game-winning 48-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in overtime. Russell Wilson threw for 388 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions while adding 84 rushing yards while Tyler Lockett posted an incredible 53.0 FP with 15/200/3 receiving against the Cardinals.

What to look for this off-season

The Seahawks experimented with letting Russ cook this season but it looks like Carroll is intent on putting the cat back into the bag. He fired Brian Schottenheimer at the conclusion of the season over “philosophical differences” as he wants to roll back the offense to a run-heavy mentality. Seattle is reportedly interested in the likes of Adam Gase and Doug Pederson at offensive coordinator, so this could be an uninspiring fantasy offense next season. I would expect the Seahawks to try to upgrade their offensive line this off-season if they’re reverting back into a ball-control offense. Seattle’s top priority this off-season is locking up Adams to a long-term contract after they sent a healthy bounty to the Jets this summer. Adams has said he loves being a Seahawk and he even lit up a victory cigar at his postgame press conference after Seattle clinched the NFC West title in Week 16 so it seems likely both sides will work out a deal.

2. *Los Angeles Rams (10-6, 9-7 ATS)*

  • Playoff Odds: +140
  • Best Bets: Jared Goff over 23.5 passing TDs (loss, -1.5 units, 20 TDs)
  • Leans: Over eight wins (win, 10-6)

What went right

Sean McVay’s offenses took the league by storm at the beginning of his coach tenure in 2017, but it was Brandon Staley and the Rams’ defense that dominated opponents this season. The Rams allowed the fewest yards per game (292.9) and the second-fewest points per game (19.3), which helped the 38-year-old Staley to continue his rapid rise in the coaching ranks with the Chargers making him their next head coach. McVay returned his team to the playoffs for the third time in four years after the Rams missed the 2019 postseason. The Rams won their third playoff game under McVay with their dominant 30-20 victory over the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round. The organization also opened their state of the art new stadium this season, but the Rams didn’t host any fans at SoFi Stadium in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. Cam Akers will be thrilling fans in the future after his strong finishing kick to his rookie season. He averaged 92.1 rushing yards per game and 4.6 YPC with four rushing touchdowns in his final seven games of the season.

What went wrong

Los Angeles’ defense has caught up to and passed Los Angeles’ offense in the last two seasons, and the fact hasn’t been lost on McVay as they enter the off-season. Jared Goff’s play has sharply declined in two straight seasons, and Carson Wentz’s disastrous season has provided some cover for Goff — they were selected first and second in the 2016 Draft. McVay’s relationship with his franchise quarterback needs some work this off-season after he chose to start backup John Wolford over him in the Wild Card Round. Goff set career-highs in passing yards (4688), YPA (8.4), and touchdown passes (32) during his breakout 2018 campaign. Since becoming the team’s full-time starter in 2017, Goff posted career-lows across the board this year in passing yards (3952), YPA (7.2), and touchdown passes (20). The Rams defense is bound to take a step or two back next season so Goff and this offense need to improve if they want to be legit Super Bowl contenders next season.

The game they stole

The Rams announced they were legit NFC contenders when they knocked off the Seahawks and the Buccaneers in consecutive games in Weeks 10-11. Los Angeles went on the road and knocked off the Buccaneers 27-24 on Monday Night Football as four-point underdogs. Goff had his only game with 300+ passing yards and 3+ TDs of the season as he connected 11 times for 145 yards with Cooper Kupp and 12 times for 130 yards with Robert Woods. The Rams defense also limited Tom Brady and his loaded cast to just 251 total yards in their victory.

The game that got away

The Rams had a good chance to win the NFC West and to host a playoff game in their fancy new stadium, but they took their eyes off the prize in the most embarrassing loss by any team in 2020. Los Angeles entered Week 15 as 17.5-point home favorites against the previously winless Jets, but the Rams fell behind by 17 points in the third quarter and they couldn’t overcome the deficit in a 23-20 loss in the biggest point-spread upset of the season. Los Angeles was one of just five teams to lose outright as favorites of 17 or more points since 1978. The game proved costly not only for the Rams but also for the Jets, who ruined their chances at the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the right to select Trevor Lawrence.

What to look for this off-season

Goff’s production has fallen off a cliff since he signed a four-year, $134 million contract extension before the 2019 season — the deal keeps him with the Rams through 2024. McVay’s top priority is to get his 26-year-old quarterback back on the right track by any means necessary. McVay showed at the end of the season that he’s willing to resort to a competition at his quarterback position by giving Wolford a chance to play over a struggling and compromised Goff. The Rams could certainly bring in some veteran competition behind Goff this off-season to try to get the most out of him next season. Los Angeles also failed to upgrade its offensive line last off-season, and they need to infuse some young talent into the group with Andrew Whitworth turning 40 years old next season.

3. Arizona Cardinals (8-8, 7-9 ATS)

  • Best Bets: None.
  • Leans: Under 7.5 wins (loss, 8-8); Kyler Murray over 3800.5 passing yards (win, 3971 yards)

What went right

The Cardinals, like the Dolphins before them in 2019, capitalized on the organizational dysfunction in Houston by trading 10 cents (David Johnson, 2020 second-round pick, 2021 fourth-round pick) on the dollar for DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick. The trade paid immediate dividends for second-year QB Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ offense as Kliff Kingsbury’s crew saw a three-win improvement with one of the league’s best WRs in the fold. Hopkins and Murray didn’t waste any time getting on the same page as they connected 14 times for 151 yards in their stunning victory in the season opener over the 49ers, who were the defending NFC champions. Hopkins matched his career-high in catches with 115 on his way to his third season with 1400+ receiving yards. Murray’s also saw his production rise in his second season with a legit #1 WR at his disposal as he finished .8 FP behind Josh Allen (391.8 to 391.0) for the overall QB1 spot.

What went wrong

Arizona improved from 5-10-1 in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season in the desert to 8-8 in his second season. Most organizations would love to see a three-win improvement in Year Two, but it’s the way they got to .500 that left the Cardinals feeling a bit hollow at the conclusion of 2020. The Cardinals started the season 6-3 record after the “Hail Murray” victory against the Bills (see below), but they ended the season with a thud with a 2-5 mark in their final seven games to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Arizona went from competing for the NFC West title in December to losing a win-or-go-home game in the season finale against John Wolford. Murray certainly made some strides in his second season, but he needs to become a more complete passer after making just small improvements in YPA (6.9 to 7.1) and in passer rating (87.4 to 94.3).

The game they stole

The Cardinals had a couple of dramatic wins to pick from this season, including their dramatic 37-34 victory over the Seahawks in Week 7. Arizona picked up an improbable victory over the Bills in Week 10 on what would later become dubbed the “Hail Murray” game. The Bills owned a 14-point lead over the Cardinals early in the third quarter but they eventually took the lead on the heels of a pair of touchdown runs by Kyler. The Bills then catapulted back into the lead with just 34 seconds left on a 21-yard touchdown catch by Diggs. Arizona would have the last laugh, though, as Murray drove them 32 yards in 23 seconds to set up Murray’s incredible throw and Hopkins’ ridiculous catch in the end zone. At the time, the victory appeared to be the start of Arizona’s run to the playoffs, but the Cardinals ended up dropping three straight games after their dramatic victory.

The games that got away

The Cardinals had some dramatic wins but they also had some games that got away from them, which ended up costing them a playoff spot since they needed just one more victory to reach the postseason. The Cardinals dropped a pair of games to the Lions in Week 3 and the Patriots in Week 12 on buzzer-beating field goals. Arizona owned a three-point lead and a 77.2% win probability early in the fourth quarter against Detroit, but Matt Prater kicked a pair of field goals in the last seven minutes to hand Arizona its first loss of the season. The Cardinals then dropped a 20-17 decision to the Patriots in late November despite Cam Newton completing just 9/18 passes for 84 yards and two interceptions.

What to look for this off-season

Arizona could be in a bit of a transition this off-season. Cardinals legends Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson may have played their final games with the organization. The 37-year-old WR has been on retirement watch for the last several seasons and there’s a solid chance he won’t be back for an 18th year. Peterson, 30, will enter free agency this season with his play slipping in recent years after averaging $14 million per year on his last five-year contract. The Cardinals still have a lot of holes to fill on their roster despite their 8-8 record in 2020, and one of their biggest needs is at cornerback so they could still bring back Peterson if he’s willing to be paid like a #2 CB. Arizona also needs to improve their pass rush on defense and they need to upgrade their offensive line and their #2 WR spot for Kyler next season.

4. San Francisco 49ers (6-10, 7-9 ATS)

  • Best Bets: None
  • Leans: Under 10.5 wins (win, 6-10); Jimmy Garoppolo over 3700.5 passing yards (loss, 1096 yards); Raheem Mostert most rushing yards +2000 (loss, 521 yards)

What went right

The 49ers didn’t have a whole lot to be happy about in 2020 after their magical run last season. They went from representing the NFC in the Super Bowl in 2019 with a 13-3 record to finishing last in a competitive NFC West with a 6-10 record. HC Kyle Shanahan did at least potentially discover a future star in first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk, who was the WR3 in Weeks 7-14 with 36/495/3 receiving in six games for 20.8 FPG in that span. The 49ers have a formidable trio in Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel for whoever is at quarterback next season. Third-year RB Jeff Wilson also showed some potential to be a lead back in the future with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman struggling to stay on the field in 2020. He totaled 600 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs on just 126 carries so he could have a prominent role next season with Coleman and Jerick McKinnon entering free agency.

What went wrong

San Francisco had a miserable time trying to repeat as NFC champions as they simply couldn’t stay healthy after their Super Bowl run in 2019. San Francisco easily paced the league with 326 games missed because of injury in 2020. Nick Bosa (ACL), Kittle (foot), Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle), Dee Ford (back), Deebo Samuel (foot/hamstring), Raheem Mostert (ankle), Weston Richburg (knee), Richard Sherman (calf), K’Waun Williams (ankle), and Jaquiski Tartt (toe) were among the key players who missed significant time. San Francisco not only struggled to stay healthy, but they also had to relocate the organization to Arizona for the final month of the season after Santa Clara County gave them the boot over COVID-19 restrictions.

The game they stole

It looked like the 49ers might make one last run at the playoffs after they knocked off the Rams in Week 12 as five-point road underdogs to improve to 5-6 with five games left. The 49ers jumped out to a 14-point lead in the second quarter and they held on for dear life after that with the Rams eventually taking a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. The 49ers went 31 minutes between scores before Robbie Gould eventually kicked a pair of field goals, including the game-winning 42-yard field goal with no time left. San Francisco picked up some steam after that win as money poured in on them against the Bills the following week. They went from being three-point underdogs to 1.5-point favorites against the Bills, but it was bad money that moved the line as Buffalo wiped the floor with the 49ers on Monday Night Football. San Francisco would lose three games in a row in Weeks 13-15 to end any hopes of a late-season surge.

The game that got away

San Francisco’s season started going sideways when they dropped a 25-20 decision to the Eagles on Sunday Night Football in Week 4 with Nick Mullens at quarterback. San Francisco held a three-point lead against a dismal Philadelphia offense with six minutes left in the game before the 49ers gave up two touchdowns in the span of eight seconds to lose complete control of a game they seem to have well in their grasp. The 49ers gave up a 42-yard touchdown pass to Travis Fulgham with 5:50 remaining in the game before Alex Singleton scored on a 30-yard interception return touchdown on the next play to blow the game wide open.

What to look for this off-season

The current 49ers roster is at a bit of a crossroads heading into this off-season. They have a major decision to make at quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo unable to stay healthy this season. He played the entire 2019 season during their run to the Super Bowl, but he’s missed a combined 23 games in 2018 (torn ACL) and 2020 (high ankle). Jimmy G is due to make about $27 million per year over the next two seasons but the 49ers can get out from underneath his contract with just $2.8 million dead money. The 49ers have had one of the better defenses in the league over the last four seasons under DC Robert Saleh, but we’ll see if this unit has the same bite with Saleh bolting for the Jets. The 49ers also have some maneuvering to do at cornerback with Sherman, Williams, and Jason Verrett each entering free agency. They also need to bolster the interior of their offensive line after they struggled mightily with Richburg out of the lineup.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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