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49ers Favored to go Back-to-Back as NFC West Champs

by Kyle Wood/ May 11, 2023 at 6:12 p.m.

The last team to win back-to-back NFC West titles was the Rams in 2017-18. Since then, the 49ersSeahawks and Los Angeles have all traded turns finishing first in the division.

San Francisco, the defending NFC West champions, is heavily favored to finish ahead of Seattle, its toughest competition in the division. Theres cause for pause given the Niners uncertainty at the most important position in sports due to a slew of injuries at quarterback, though theyve advanced to the conference title game in three of the last four seasons.

The NFC is home to very few top-flight contenders and two of them happen to reside in its West division. Pete Carrolls team could be ready to push Kyle Shanahans for the best record in the division yet again.

Bet on the NFC West Champion on SI Sportsbook

San Francisco 49ers Odds to Win NFC West: -175

The 49ers ran out of quarterbacks in last years NFC championship and entered the summer with a lot of options but not much clarity at the position. Brock Purdy, the former Mr. Irrelevant who led the team to seven straight wins, had offseason elbow surgery and theres no guarantee hes ready for Week 1. Trey Lance, the 2021 No. 3 pick, broke his ankle in Week 2 and has appeared in just eight games in two years. And then theres Sam Darnold, a free-agent addition who could push for the top job in camp. The rest of the roster is in great shape top to bottom to the point that Shanahan said "It was so nice going into the draft this year that we didn't feel like we had to find a starter at any position, except kicker." The team drafted one, Jake Moody, in the third round. San Francisco also added defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to its ferocious front seven in free agency but lost safety Jimmie Ward and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Its biggest competition in the division is Seattle, which it sent home in the wild-card round.

49ers 2022 Record: 13–4

49ers Projected 2023 Win Total: 11.5

49ers Home Opponents: Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Bengals, Buccaneers

49ers Away Opponents: Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Eagles, Commanders, Browns, Steelers, Vikings, Jaguars

Seattle Seahawks Odds to Win NFC West: +260

It didnt take long for the Seahawks to reset. Journeyman quarterback Geno Smith and a loaded rookie class helped lead the team to a surprise playoff appearance and Seattle still had two top-20 picks, which it spent on cornerback Devon Witherspoon and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. In free agency, linebacker Bobby Wagner returned to his longtime team and defensive end DreMont Jones was a key addition up front. The team extended Smith, who had a breakout season in his ninth year in the league, and further added to its skill position group by drafting running back Zach Charbonnet after the departure of Rashaad Penny. The Seahawks had one of the better offenses in the NFL in 2022 and theres reason to believe the defense will be better in 2023, making them a contender in the division and conference at large.

Seahawks 2022 Record: 9–8

Seahawks Projected 2023 Win Total: 8.5

Seahawks Home Opponents: Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, Eagles, Commanders, Browns, Steelers, Panthers

Seahawks Away Opponents: Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Bengals, Lions, Titans

Bet on the NFC West Champion on SI Sportsbook

Los Angeles Rams Odds to Win NFC West: +650

The Rams are in post-Super Bowl limbo. The stars of the team that won it all — defensive tackle Aaron Donald, receiver Cooper Kupp and quarterback Matthew Stafford — are still there but Los Angeles, a team known for discarding picks in the past, made 14 selections in the draft to address the litany of holes across the roster. Salary cap concerns forced the front office to trade cornerback Jalen Ramsey and receiver Allen Robinson, linebackers Leonard Floyd and Bobby Wagner were both released and kicker Matt Gay left in free agency. That coach Sean McVay and Donald are both back is a plus, but expectations for the coming season are much lower than they were a year ago for the 2022 champs.

Rams 2022 Record: 5–12

Rams 2023 Projected Win Total: 7.5

Rams Home Opponents: Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, Eagles, Commanders, Saints, Browns, Steelers

Rams Away Opponents: Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Giants, Packers, Ravens, Bengals, Colts

Arizona Cardinals Odds to Win NFC West: +2400

The Cardinals were having a disastrous season even before Kyler Murray tore his ACL, which will likely keep him sidelined for at least part of the 2023 season. The teams offense and defense both regressed mightily following their first playoff appearance in six years. Coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired as a result and replaced with Jonathan Gannon. Arizona moved deftly in the draft and traded back to acquire a future 2024 first and still secured top tackle prospect Paris Johnson. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins name has come up in trade rumors while safety Budda Baker has formally requested a trade. Though Gannon cringed at the term "rebuild" this roster still needs some work before its ready to make another run at the playoffs.

Cardinals 2022 Record: 4–13

Cardinals 2023 Projected Win Total: 4.5

Cardinals Home Opponents: Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Bengals, Falcons, Rams, 49ers, Seahawks

Cardinals Away Opponents: Eagles, Commanders, Steelers, Browns, Bears, Texans, Rams, 49ers, Seahawks

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