The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, who finished 13-3 last season en route to a 43-8 demolition of the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, are the early favorites to come out on top in the NFC West, with odds of 11/10 to repeat as division winners.
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But despite their strong odds in the toughest division in the NFL, the Seahawks have slipped to 15/2 in Super Bowl futures betting entering the new season, just back of the Broncos, who sit at 13/2, per most books monitored by OddsShark.com.
Seattle is joined at 15/2 in Super Bowl wagering by both the New England Patriots and their divisional arch rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. The Hawks open the season Thursday at home against the Packers.
As expected, the Niners also remain on the Seahawks’ heels in NFL divisional futures betting, with odds of 3/2 to return to the top of the NFC West for the third time in four seasons.
And if the futures betting dogfight between the two clubs wasn’t close enough, the NFC West rivals also remain neck-and-neck in NFL props betting.
In props wagering on 2014 regular season totals, the Seahawks are pegged at 11 wins, while the Niners, who won 12 games in 2013, sit at 10.5 wins. In both cases, both the OVER and UNDER carry a moneyline of 20/23.
San Francisco is 8-2-1 against the spread in openers over the past decade or so and they are even better as road favorites (10-1 SU, 9-1-1 against the spread) as they head to Dallas in Week 1.
Meanwhile, in NFL player props wagering, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and Niners QB Colin Kaepernick both sit just shy of the favorites with betting odds of 20/1 to claim 2014 NFL MVP honors. Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch, who last season rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs to go along with 316 receiving yards and two TDs, is also in the MVP props betting mix with odds of 50/1.
But while all eyes were on the 49ers and Seahawks last season, the Arizona Cardinals quietly won 10 games, including a 17-10 win over the Seahawks in Week 16 that ended Seattle’s 14-game home winning streak.
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The Cards enter their 2014 season as a 15/2 bet to win the NFC West, and own attractive 40/1 odds to win Super Bowl XLIX in front of a home crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Though they had a strong 10-6 campaign in 2013, and finished the second half of the season 6-2, led by an offense that suddenly caught fire following a Week 9 bye, the Cards still sit well back of the leaders in betting on total regular season wins. Arizona is pegged at just 7.5 wins, although the OVER is favored with a 2/3 moneyline.
Meanwhile, after another ACL injury to Rams QB Sam Bradford during the preseason, St. Louis tumbled to 12/1 odds. That added to the many questions swirling around the club following a 7-9 finish in 2013. Bradford, who showed flashes of brilliance in 2013 before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 7 during a 30-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers, is gone again and so is seemingly any hope of the Rams competing in this murderous division.
The Rams are nonetheless favored by almost a touchdown at home to the Vikings in Week 1. They have won four straight when favored at home but are a bankroll-bleeding 2-11-1 against the spread in their past 14 season openers.
2014 NFL division preview: NFC West
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks previews the NFC West for the 2014 NFL season.