Seahawks Look to Defend NFC West, NFC & Super Bowl Titles

By: Monte Scates | Monday, July 7, 2014
NFC West

The NFC West Boasts Some of the Best Defenses in the NFL.

Last year's Super Bowl winner came from the NFC West in the Seattle Seahawks, who also hosted the NFC Championship Game against their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. The division also had a 10-win team that didn't make the playoffs (the Arizona Cardinals), setting up the NFC West as arguably the toughest division in the NFL again this year. While the battle for the NFC West crown would seem to be a two-horse race between the Seahawks and the 49ers, the Cardinals and St. Louis Rams have also closed the gap, so we'll just have to wait and see by how much.

Following are future odds from the LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas as well as an inside look at some of the changes these teams made during this offseason (click here for latest NFL future odds from the SuperBook).

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Super Bowl Odds: 5/1
NFC Title Odds: 5/2
NFC West Odds: 11/10
O/U Win Total: 11 OVER -135

Seattle will have a very difficult first-place schedule this year, and the Seahawks are hoping to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover. With their enormous home-field advantage, they should be able to do just that.

Seattle is clearly still focused on keeping the defense solid, giving big-money, long-term deals to cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas this offseason. But the offense is where we should expect the most improvement. With a healthy Percy Harvin to add explosion to the offense and another year of experience under quarterback Russell Wilson's belt, the Seahawks appear ready to make another run at a division title, conference championship and Super Bowl.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Super Bowl Odds: 7/1
NFC Title Odds: 7/2
NFC West Odds: 5/4
O/U Win Total: 10.5 UNDER -115

The 49ers were second-best to only the Seahawks in the NFC last season.  They have nearly identical odds to win the division as the Seahawks, which tells you a lot about what Las Vegas thinks about this team.

While clearly respected by the sportsbooks, San Francisco still had a couple of issues that needed to be addressed heading into the upcoming season, one being the running game. Veteran Frank Gore is nearing the end of his career, and even with him the team's running game was inconsistent last year. Enter rookie Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State, who was graded by many as the top RB available in the 2014 NFL draft and picked in the second round.

Wide receiver was also another area of concern for the Niners without much depth beyond the top two guys in Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. But they added WR Stevie Johnson through a trade with the Buffalo Bills to help out there and also drafted Bruce Ellington out of South Carolina in the sixth round.

Expect the defense to be just as impressive as it was last season if they can keep All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith on the field and out of the courtroom and get LB NaVorro Bowman to return to full strength from a torn ACL suffered in last year's NFC Championship Game against Seattle. This team has a real shot to win it all.

ARIZONA CARDINALS
Super Bowl Odds: 40/1
NFC Title Odds: 20/1
NFC West Odds: 8/1
O/U Win Total: 7.5 OVER-160

This team won 10 games last season and was also the only team to win a game in Seattle. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, neither meant anything, as they missed the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.  

Arizona relied on its defense to win games last year and added to it with hard-hitting S Deone Bucannon, who was their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.  While we all know this team relies on its defense, the Cards were able to get double-digit wins because of the improvement they made under second-year head coach Bruce Arians and his offense in his first year there. They got great play from QB Carson Palmer and saw WR Michael Floyd have a breakout season on the other side of perennial Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald. The question is, can they maintain that level of offensive play for another season in a division with some of the best defenses in the NFL?

ST. LOUIS RAMS
Super Bowl Odds: 40/1
NFC Title Odds: 20/1
NFC West Odds: 8/1
O/U Win Total: 7.5 OVER -150

The Rams could be the biggest wild card in the division. They come into this season with a huge addition to their offensive line, adding top draft pick Greg Robinson, an offensive tackle from Auburn who some regarded as the best overall prospect in the 2014 NFL draft. He was selected No. 2 overall as a pick the Rams received from the Washington Redskins as part of the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012.

Some thought St. Louis should have selected RGIII themselves, but the team was committed to QB Sam Bradford and know that protecting him will be of the utmost importance in order to succeed this year. Bradford suffered a torn ACL after achieving a 90.9 passer rating with 1,687 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions through the first seven games.

The Rams defense is very solid and will need to improve their level of play if they expect to win this division. They gave up 990 yards on penalties last season - which was the fifth-worst mark in the NFL - and must show more discipline under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in order to take down the big boys in the NFC West.

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