Our Pro Pick For Cardinals vs 49ers
The already eliminated Arizona Cardinals, with a third-string quarterback, will travel to Levi’s Stadium to face the San Francisco 49ers. This game shouldn’t even be close, as the reigning division champions still have some motivation to play, as they could snatch the first seed away from the Philadelphia Eagles. Their defense should find little trouble forcing turnovers and keeping the Cardinals away from the endzone, so we wouldn’t be shocked to see them cover the 14-point spread.
Our best bet on who will win NFC West in 2023
Most NFC West predictions have the Los Angeles Rams on top and for very good reasons. The Rams are perhaps the most stacked team in football. They enter the year as reigning champions, and even though they lost Von Miller, they’re still way too talented, even compared to the other NFC West teams. Matthew Stafford’s inconsistent performances have hurt them throughout the season, and Cam Akers was a massive disappointment.
Aaron Donald continues to be the biggest defensive force in the game, and Sean McVay just has too many weapons at his disposal. However, despite having the highest NFC odds before the start of the season, the Rams look flat and out of sync as of now. Sean McVay’s job is safe, but he needs to hit the drawing board and straighten the ship.
If you want to take a look at the other NFC contenders, refer to our NFC Championship page for more information.
What’s The Current Picture On The NFC West?
The San Francisco 49ers officially clinched the division. Third-string QB Brock Purdy took over the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who had already subbed in for Trey Lance. Now, they’ll look to put an end to their Super Bowl drought with 2022 Mr. Irrelevant behind center.
Surprisingly, the Seattle Seahawks still have a shot at making the playoffs, albeit a slim one. Geno Smith had a first half of the season to remember, but he vastly regressed over the past month and a half. Still, the future seems bright for Pete Carroll’s rebuilding team.
The same cannot be said of the Arizona Cardinals, or at least not while Kliff Kingsbury is still in town. Kyler Murray suffered a season-ending injury, and they endured multiple ailments throughout the year, but their biggest issue continues to lie within the coaching staff, so it wasn’t a surprise to see them miss the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Rams were perhaps the biggest disappointment in the National Football League. They now have the most losses in a season by a defending champion. Nothing went their way, from Matthew Stafford’s injury to their defensive meltdowns, it was all a disaster.
NFC West: History And Context
Considering the history of these franchises, it’s not a surprise to see that the NFC West has had some of the greatest players to ever lace them up. So, since we don’t want to leave anyone behind, we’ll list the top 25 best players from each team:
- San Francisco 49ers: Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Bill Walsh, Dwight Clark, Frank Gore, Roger Craig, Tom Ratham, Charles Haley, Deion Sanders, Terrell Owens, Bryant Young, Hugh McElhenny, Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wilcox, Bob St. Clair, Y.A. Tittle, John Henry Johnson, Gene Washington, Joe Perry, Leo Nomellini, Fred Dean, Brent Jones, and Jon Brodie.
- Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald, Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Jackie Slater, Jack Youngblood, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Charlie Cowan, Henry Ellard, Eddie Meador, Roman Gabriel, Todd Gurley, Tom Mack, Steven Jackson, Norm Van Brocklin, Elroy Hirsch, Torry Holt, Isiah Robertson, Bob Waterfield, Tom Fears, Rich Saul, and Les Richter.
- Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Jacob Green, Kenny Easley, Cortez Kennedy, Steve Largent, Walter Jones, Chad Brown, Doug Baldwin, Curt Warner, Matt Hasselback, Eugene Robinson, Steve Hutchinson, Kam Chancellor, Dave Brown, Shaun Alexander, Lofa Tatupu, K.J. Wright, Dave Krieg, Michael Sinclair, and Brian Blades.
- Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald, Larry Wilson, Dan Dierdof, Jackie Smith, Charlie Trippi, Aeneas Williams, Ernie Nevers, Roger Wehrli, Dick Lane, Ollie Matson, Duke Slater, Paddy Driscol, Marshall Goldberg, Kurt Wartner, Jim Hart, Patrick Peterson, Roy Green, Otis Anderson, Anquan Boldin, Luis Sharpe, Larry Centers, Adrian Wilson, Jim Bakken, Pat Tiley, and Tom Banks.
The Top And The Bottom
The NFC West has no middle ground. It’s either a state-of-the-art, uber-valuable franchise or a bottom-feeding team, at least in terms of value. According to Forbes, this division has the third and eighth most valuable franchises (Los Angeles Rams at $6.2 billion and San Francisco 49ers at $5.2 billion).
In contrast, it also has the third least-valuable franchise in the Arizona Cardinals ($3.27 billion) and a middle-of-the-pack team in the Seattle Seahawks, which are the 14th-most valuable team at $4.5 billion and yearly revenue of $518 million in 2021.
A Coastal History
The NFC West wasn’t always exclusively for the West Coast. In fact, it was originally known as the National Football League Coastal Division and originally intended that all of its teams started with the letter “C.” It also intended to feature only teams that were near to the coasts, regardless of if it was the East Coast or the West Coast.
Originally, the first version of what we know as the NFC West today featured the Baltimore Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and Atlanta Falcons; two teams from the East, and two from the West. Needless to say, this proved to be a mistake, starting with the fact that the Falcons were farther east than at least five Eastern Conference teams at the time.
The League’s Finest
The NFC West has been a bloodbath for years. Literally, any of the four teams was a legit menace to reach the Super Bowl, and the Los Angeles Rams are the reigning champions, just two years after the San Francisco 49ers also reached the ultimate stage.
As a matter of fact, the NFC West has been so superior to other divisions that one NFC West team has made the Super Bowl seven times in the past two decades. Unfortunately, just two of them have been able to win; the Rams in 2022 and the Seahawks in 2014.
There’s No Love Here
Every division has its own rivalries, but those in the NFC West are just fiery and heartfelt. There’s absolutely no sort of love between these teams, which is why making NFC West predictions in divisional games often backfires, even for the most experienced bettors and football fans.
For years, the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams have hated each others’ guts, which also happens between the Niners and the Seattle Seahawks. Notably, Seahawks and Rams don’t get along at all, either, and that’s also the case between Cardinals and Rams and Cardinals and Seahawks.
The Niners Own It
Death, love, and the San Francisco 49ers making a big splash in the division. That’s the way it’s been since it’s its inception and will continue to be this way for years to come if Trey Lance winds up being as good as they expect. Simply put, the Niners own the division.
During the 45 years of its existence, the San Francisco 49ers have ended on top on 20 occasions. They’ve also made the playoffs 25 times, with seven Super Bowl appearances and five rings. The St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams are a close second with 16 divisional titles, 24 playoff berths, five Super Bowl appearances, and a couple of rings. The Seattle Seahawks won 9 divisional titles and one ring, followed by the St. Louis/Phoenix, Arizona Cardinals (3), New Orleans Saints (2), Baltimore Colts (1), and Carolina Panthers (1).