No Quarter Given in the NFC West – Who Will Blink First?

Four teams with a single expectation – that sums up the NFC West in 2021. On paper, the Rams, Niners, Seahawks and Cardinals all have what it takes to make the playoffs. The 49ers in particular are tipped as a strong contender for Super Bowl LVI despite finishing last year at the foot of the division after a disappointing 6-10 campaign. All four teams started as they mean to go on with Week 1 wins, and this is arguably the most difficult of all eight divisions to call.
San Francisco returning to the top
49ers tight end George Kittle was brimming with confidence when he appeared on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max show last week. The 41-33 scoreline does not reflect how much the Niners dominated in their Week 1 road trip to Detroit. Kittle cited the strength of the 49ers backfield and their formidable running game as the factors that will make the difference. He said they will continue to “be violent, be physical, every single week.” The message is clear – returning to the top of the closely contested NFC West is not a hope, it’s an expectation.
Rams are the bookies’ choice
Unsurprisingly, the sports books have the Chiefs and the Bucs as early favorites for the Super Bowl, but as far as the odds go, the Rams are best of the rest. They’ve made just the one Super Bowl appearance since moving back to LA, losing in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever. The hype surrounding the arrival of Matthew Stafford proved justified in Week 1, from his opening 3-play 80-yard scoring drive to the 67-yard missile to Van Jefferson that sealed the deal against the Bears.
Seahawks start with a bang
There’s a simple axiom in the NFL. Never rule out Seattle. The Seahawks blew the Colts away at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 1. Russell Wilson looked back to his best, calling the play action time and again, and completing 18 out of 23 for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile on defense, man-mountain Bryan Mone was a revelation, never far from the action and showing remarkable agility for a man of 345 lb. Alongside Bobby Wagner, this could be one of the most formidable defenses in the NFL.
Cards on the table
Of the four, Arizona are probably the least fancied team in the NFC West. Yet even they are quoted at just 28/1 for Super Bowl victory, shorter odds than the likes of the Steelers and the Patriots. They certainly looked like the real deal against the Titans in Week 1. Five touchdowns and 38 points were well and good, but it was the return of Chandler Jones, who missed most of last year through injury, that really made the difference. Five sacks and two forced fumbles defined the game, and if he stays fit, Arizona might just be the talking point, not only of the NFC West, but of the entire NFL in the weeks ahead.

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