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The NFC West produced three consecutive NFC Champions until the NFC South’s Carolina Panthers made it to the Super Bowl last year, surprising everyone along the way. It looks like the NFC West trend could resume this season as three NFC West teams are in the top four of the Super Bowl futures as we go to press.


The Favourites

The Green Bay Packers are +450 co-favourites with the Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC Conference, and they’re returning with Aaron Rodgers at the helm and a healthy Jordy Nelson, who’s back in shape after a knee injury. Green Bay lost in overtime in the playoffs the last two seasons; they lost the NFC Championship Game to the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 and lost to Arizona in the divisional round in 2015. They might need their defense – especially the run defense, which ranked 21st – to take a step forward in order to reach Super Bowl 51.

Defense is definitely not an issue for the Seahawks, who led the NFL with the fewest points per game allowed (17.3) last season, but can their offense step up its game? The offensive line is a big concern; only five teams allowed more sacks last season. The onus is on quarterback Russell Wilson now that Marshawn Lynch has retired.

The Arizona Cardinals (+500) have been very competitive since Bruce Arians took over the head coaching duties in 2013. They’ve claimed 10, 11 and 13 wins in subsequent years and have a very complete team. Their offense is explosive, ranking second in points per game last season (30.6), and they’ve bolstered their defense with the addition of star pass rusher Chandler Jones and first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche. Is this the year they make their deepest playoff run?

After last season’s impressive 15-1 record, the Panthers (+550) are determined to prove it wasn't a fluke. Cam Newton will aim to build on his MVP season, and his top receiver from 2014, Kelvin Benjamin, is back to give him support. The Panthers already led the league in points per game (31.3) without Benjamin, so they’ll be an even bigger threat this year. Carolina's defense was fantastic too, ranking sixth overall in yards per game.


The Sleepers

A pair of NFC East rivals lead the sleepers category: the Minnesota Vikings (+900) and the New York Giants (+1000). The Vikings were a chip-shot field goal away from making it to the second-round of the playoffs. They’ll need more out of third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, though, who only made 14 touchdown passes last season.

The Giants have struggled with defense and have addressed some of these needs by signing cornerback Janoris Jenkins and spending three of their first four draft picks on defense. Their offense can light it up (sixth-best points per game in 2015), but the quality of their defense will dictate the success of their 2016/2017 campaign.

The Cowboys (+1200) were 12-4 two years ago, before succumbing to a slew of injuries last year, including star quarterback Tony Romo. If healthy, they’ll have one of the league’s best offenses, which is now bolstered by rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott. Now they just need to pump up their defense and they’ll be back in contention.


*Odds as of August 30, 2016