Determining who the best team in the NFC, yet alone the NFL season is during the 2021 season has been an arduous task. Every time one team seems to set itself apart from the pack, a bizarre loss or injury brings them back to the pack. Vegas NFL odds according to BetUS, have the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams among the favorites.
The two division rivals will meet this weekend with two games separating them in the standings. While Arizona holds a two-game edge, there is a lot to settle between now and the end of the season.
Rams try to form super team
The Rams have become a proving ground for veteran players hungry for another championship. Los Angeles, who are +1200 to win the Super Bowl according to BetUS, started accumulating players in the offseason to build around defensive stalwart Aaron Donald and haven’t stopped since.
Since the season started, the Rams have added former All-Pro defensive lineman Von Miller and All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to their roster. Before the season started, Los Angeles traded quarterbacks with the Detroit Lions, adding Pro Bowler Matthew Stafford to get the Super Bowl Hype Train started.
The Rams are hoping their train can get closer to the station. Los Angeles’ last Super Bowl appearance in 2019 resulted in a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots. The Rams were last able to win the Super Bowl when they were still in St. Louis back in 2000.
Cardinals desperate to show championship mettle
Arizona, which is +800 to win the Super Bowl and won its first seven games to open the season, has kept up the arms race. Last season, the Cardinals brought in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans to help support quarterback Kyler Murray. Arizona has also made in-season moves. The Cardinals traded for tight end Zach Ertz earlier this season, providing Arizona with a veteran who has experience winning a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cardinals have improved as a franchise in the past 15 years, but still haven’t discovered a championship mix. Arizona last won the NFL title in 1947, long before the idea of the Super Bowl was even created. The Cardinals’ lone opportunity to win since then went up in smoke when the Cardinals lost 27-23 to the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
NFC West vs. the World
The path to the Super Bowl for the NFC West’s top two teams won’t be one without potential hurdles. In addition to having to battle each other, the Cardinals and Rams will have to contend with the suddenly hot San Francisco 49ers, who also have a winning record.
Once the playoffs start, Green Bay and Tampa Bay will be major obstacles. The Packers and Buccaneers are led by quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who are two of the best players in NFL history and have Super Bowl experience.
Can any AFC team get out of their own way?
Any potential Super Bowl opponent for the Cardinals or Rams, should either get that far, would have flaws. The AFC race this year has been characterized by misfortune and inconsistency for nearly every team. The Tennessee Titans briefly shot to the top of the conference and looked like world beaters, only to lose their running back Derrick Henry due to injury.
The defending AFC champion Chiefs have looked like a shell of their former selves, being held back by turnovers and a leaky defense. Baltimore’s backfield behind Lamar Jackson has been a mess with injuries and inconsistency. Jackson hasn’t helped matters with inopportune turnovers. New England has shown progress with rookie quarterback Mac Jones, but there will be questions for how the rookie will fair under the bright lights in the playoffs.