It’s just one month until preseason and two months until it really matters! Need to get caught up on where every NFL team stands as the season approaches? Here’s a handy preview complete with odds to let you know what to expect from each team heading into the 2017 season. While the odds below are 100-percent original, you can wager on some of these props — like who will win the division title — at any of the sites on our list of top sportsbooks. Others are purely for fun. It should be pretty apparent which are which.
In the interest of the environment, I’m going to recycle questions from our 2016 Cardinals preview: Is this the last chance for Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald to win a title? Can D.J. Humphries step up and anchor the offensive line? How will Arizona’s defense respond to some key losses in free agency (even though all of those players will probably go on to suck for their new teams)? Basically, nothing is different for Arizona this year, aside from a much needed change at kicker. That lack of major switches is a good thing, since there’s not much the Cards need to improve on to contend in a weak West.
Palmer’s downfield passing took a hit last season, but with All-Pro back David Johnson now the focal point of the offense, the 37-year-old QB really just needs to avoid back-breaking turnovers for this team to compete on a weekly basis. The Cards will see some excellent defenses this year (Giants, Eagles, Texans, and Seahawks twice) but, overall, their road isn’t terribly rocky (23rd in strength of schedule). Potentially difficult games against Dallas and New York will come at home, while a crossover against the usually underwhelming AFC South could help Arizona rack up wins too. It only took 10 to win the NFC West last year, and these old birds look capable of that mark for at least one more season.
2017 Cardinals Odds & Props
Odds to win NFC West: 5/3
Over/Under total yards for David Johnson: 2050.5
Odds Carson Palmer retires after the season: 2/3
Odds Larry Fitzgerald retires after the season: 1/1
Odds Bruce Arians retires Kangol hats after the season: 500/1
The Cardinals team may look very different in 2018, but their head coach will always look ready to tee-off at St. Andrews in 1925.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
I’d like to congratulate the Rams for finally doing the sane thing and firing Jeff Fisher. I’d like to do that; but seeing as they wasted the bargain years of Aaron Donald by continually falling short of .500 under the mustachioed one, I can’t even throw them that tiny bone. Coming off a 4-12 year in which the defense regressed and the offense stayed abysmal, L.A. put 31-year-old Sean McVay in charge of cleaning up the mess, while Wade Phillips gets to tinker with a defense still loaded with talent (at least until Donald gets a new contract worthy of his dominance). Next year, a great player like Trumaine Johnson will likely be a casualty in order to make cap space for the game’s best defensive tackle, so it’d be nice if the Rams could avoid another wasted season while their defense is still stacked.
Unfortunately, L.A. still has questions at quarterback, after first overall pick Jared Goff had seven brutal starts in his rookie year. He couldn’t even beat the Seahawks, a game the Rams typically circle as an automatic win (even with such luminaries as Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Austin Davis playing QB)! And since the Rams don’t play Seattle 16 times this year, it’s tough to envision them challenging for a division title, even with Todd Gurley ready to bounce back from a poor sophomore season. In fact, the Rams have to travel the second-most miles this year thanks to another “home game” in London, so if carrying the offense all season doesn’t wear out Gurley, the jet lag might.
2017 Rams Odds & Props
Odds to win NFC West: 29/2
Odds Jared Goff starts all 16 games: 11/10
Odds Aaron Donald signs an extension before Jan 1, 2018: 1/2
Odds the next TV series they star in is called “Team Rescue”: 7/1
After boring the world by going back to back in HBO’s Hard Knocks and Amazon’s All or Nothing, I think we’re all set for Rams TV for a while. But they would be a good fit for this new series I’m pitching: it’s a reality show where Bill Parcells tries to fix failing football teams, but mostly just ends up berating GMs and shouting “shut it down” a bunch. This is an entirely original idea, and has definitely not received several cease and desist letters from Spike TV.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
In terms of Zodiac signs, 2016 was the Year of the Ram for San Francisco, after they beat their division rivals three times over 12 months. But as mentioned above, L.A. sucked, so the 49ers were still no match for the rest of the league, going 0-14 against non-Ram teams. So far, 2017 has been the Year of the Boot (a lesser known, but still important Zodiac symbol). Among the most notable names kicked to the curb were GM Trent Baalke, head coach Chip Kelly, and starting QB Colin Kaepernick. With an overhauled defense and new leadership from GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, the future is bright.
However, the present is going to stink, not unlike that previously mentioned boot. San Francisco’s offense will be led by a castoff of last season’s 3-13 Chicago Bears: either Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley. It is going to take a while for Shanahan’s offense to really break through in the Bay Area, and that’s before you consider the caliber of defenses within their own division. San Francisco is also just one of seven teams that will have three-straight road games this season. And one more schedule quirk working against the 49ers: they don’t have a single Monday Night game this year (a time-slot where they have won nine in a row).
2017 49ers Odds & Props
Odds to win NFC West: 19/1
Over/under points allowed per game for the season: 24.5
Odds there’s a “Bring back Baalke!” sign in the stands at some point during the season: 1,000/1
Odds there’s a “Bring back Kaepernick!” sign in the stands at some point during the season: 2/5
These odds should be higher, but in order for there to be a sign in the stands, there needs to be fans.
Notably, the Seahawks were the only team to beat the Brady-led Patriots last season, a Week 10 win that had Seattle fans dreaming of a Super Bowl rematch. But their glaring weaknesses on the o-line eventually caught up with them, as they were unable to keep pace with the Falcons in the Divisional Playoffs. So naturally, after allowing 42 sacks and rushing for just 3.9 yards per carry, the Seahawks beefed up this year’s line with … Luke Joeckel? Yes, the Jaguars bust was the biggest addition to their porous front. Seattle also brought in Eddie Lacy to help the run game, but given the issues he’s faced keeping his weight down, I doubt he’ll be able to fit through the minuscule holes created by the group in front of him.
Seattle will once again lean on Russell Wilson’s playmaking ability and the stingy play of an aging Legion of Boom. Considering the Seahawks have made the playoffs in five straight seasons, winning the division three times over that span, you can’t blame them for not wanting to alter their core. But with Wilson and the defense taking up about 72-percent of the cap, they’ll never afford a quality offensive line unless they ship out a few players. They’re the favorites to win the West again, but playing a first-place schedule this season will show how quickly the rest of the NFC is eclipsing these once Super Bowl contenders.
2017 Seahawks Odds & Props
Odds to win NFC West: 10/11
Odds to win NFC Championship: 8/1
Odds Eddie Lacy clears all his monthly weigh-ins: 5/3
Odds this is the last season the LOB (Chancellor, Thomas, Sherman) plays together: 1/4
Chancellor is a free agent in 2018, Sherman’s name came up in trade talks this offseason, while Thomas (however briefly) mulled over retirement. All good things must come to an end, and 2017 should be the Legion of Boom’s last ride.