Welcome to Bet Labs 2016 NFL preview series where we will look at all eight of the league’s divisions. As part of the preview, we will highlight each team’s chances of winning their respective division and take a look at their season win total.
To create our projections we simulated the 2016 NFL season 10,000 times using our NFL Strength of Schedule.
2015 Record: 10-6
Home Games: MIA, ATL, BUF, PHI, CAR
Away Games: NYJ, NO, NE, TB, GB
Seattle has the second best Super Bowl odds so it is no surprise then that they are the favorites to win the NFC West. Marshawn Lynch has retired but the Seahawks began to transition from a run-heavy offense last season. During a five game winning streak from Week 11 to 15, Russell Wilson had a passer rating over 120 in each game, the longest streak in NFL history. The offense will revolve around Wilson, a healthy Jimmy Graham, Thomas Rawls and the quarterback’s new favorite target Doug Baldwin. Don’t forget, this team was built on defense and the Legion of Boom finished 4th in defensive DVOA last year.
The Seahawks are projected to win the division 56.6% of the time in 10,000 simulations of the 2016 season. This would be the team’s third division title in the last four years. Seattle’s most likely record is 10-6, which occurs 20.9% of the time.
|Seahawks O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
Seattle’s win total is set at 10.5. That is the highest number in football tied with the Patriots, Steelers, Panthers and Packers. There would be value in taking the over 10.5 at odds of +133 or better.
2015 Record: 13-3
Home Games: NE, TB, NYJ, WAS, NO
Away Games: BUF, CAR, MIN, ATL, MIA
2015 was a season of firsts for the Cardinals. Arizona clinched their first NFC West title since 2009, won 13 games and clinched a first round bye for the first time in franchise history. The dream season ended abruptly in a 49-15 blowout at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. Despite coming up short of a championship, the team kept the core together and improved the squad with offseason moves. Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the Cardinals retained all the players who made a pass, rushing attempt or reception toward their league-leading offensive yardage total. On top of that, Arizona traded for Chandler Jones to improve its pass rush.
The Cardinals will be a formidable team in 2016 but it might not be enough. Arizona is projected to finish the season 9-7 (20.5% likely).
|Cardinals O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
If you can get the under 9.5 at -121 or better odds you should consider taking it.
Los Angeles Rams
2015 Record: 7-9
Home Games: BUF, NYG, CAR, MIA, ATL
Away Games: TB, DET, NYJ, NO, NE
Relocating from St. Louis to Los Angeles won’t change the fortune of the team unless top overall pick Jared Goff becomes a true franchise quarterback. The rookie is currently listed on the depth chart behind Case Keenum. Todd Gurley is a freak (1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games as a rookie) and the defense is fearsome (7th in DVOA vs. the run, 8th in DVOA vs. the pass) but this is a quarterback driven league. Without a competent signal caller the Rams are headed for another Jeff Fisher special: 8-8 or worse.
The Rams have endured four consecutive losing seasons with Fisher at the helm. The streak will extend in 2016 as the LA Rams are projected to go 7-9 (20.0%), there is an 18.9% chance the team goes 8-8.
|Rams O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
The bookmakers have wisely pegged the Rams for a 7-win season. You need better than -119 odds to take the over.
San Francisco 49ers
2015 Record: 5-11
Home Games: DAL, TB, NO, NE, NYJ
Away Games: CAR, BUF, MIA, CHI, ATL
The Niners are looking to bounce back from an awful 5-11 season in 2015. Chip Kelly, in his first year as head coach, inherits one of the least talented teams in football. A bad omen for the team is that the 49ers outperformed their Pythagorean expectations last season by 1.2 wins (fourth best in the NFL) and still finished with just five victories.
Buckle-up, San Francisco, 2015 will be a bumpy ride. The Niners are projected to finish with another miserable 5-11 record (21.1% chance of occurring). There is just a 5.1% chance that the team wins 9 or more games next season.
|49ers O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied odds|
The oddsmakers are slightly more optimistic about the Chip Kelly’s first season. Vegas has set San Francisco’s win total at 5.5 games. There is value taking the under at -116 or better odds.
NFC West Division Odds
|Team||Division Win Probability|
|Los Angeles Rams||8.1%|
|San Francisco 49ers||1.5%|
This is a top-heavy division. Seattle and Arizona combine to win the NFC West 90.4% of the time in 10,000 simulations. The Cardinals are the defending champions but the title runs through Seattle.
Check back next week when we preview the AFC West.