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    The NFC West has three distinct tiers. On top, are the San Francisco 49ers, which is one of the best teams in the NFC and a legit championship contender to start the season. On the next tier are the competitive Seattle Seahawks. On the bottom tier are the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals, two franchises with nowhere to go but up in 2023. 

    Given the strength of the rival NFC East Division, it may be tough for an NFC West team to get in on a wildcard in 2023. In my mind, that could put Seattle in a ‘win and you’re in’ situation come late December and early January, but we’ll get into that a bit more when we examine the Seahawks schedule, below. 

    For now, we’ll reference each team’s Strength of Schedule (SoS), Projected Wins (PW), and Playoff Probability (POP) as look-ahead metrics for the 2023/24 season — Let’s go!

    Arizona Cardinals

    SoS: 11th most difficult, PW: 4.8, POP: 6.2% 

    QB Kyler Murray starts the season on injured reserve and star WR DeAndre Hopkins left town, along with most on the interior Oline. OT Paris Johnson was drafted in the first round, but here’s my bet he is moved inside for the ‘23 campaign. The biggest loss on defense is CB Byron Murphy who was by far the Cardinals’ best DB in ‘22. Draftees EDGE B.J. Ojulari and CB Garrett Williams will try to add something to what may turn out to be the league’s worst pass defense in 2023.

    Looking at the Cardinals’ 2023 schedule, I don’t see 5 wins, I see about 3 or 4, if they’re lucky. I also give the Cards a zero percent chance of making the playoffs but a great chance at a Top 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. In survivor formats, pick against the Cardinals whenever they play against a team with a better record. In ATS formats, just keep in mind that the Cardinals were a mere 17% ATS against divisional foes in 2022.

    Los Angeles Rams

    SoS: 15th easiest, PW: 6.5, POP: 20.9% 

    Oh my, the Rams. To say 2022 ended and the 2023 season has begun in a state of disarray is an understatement. This franchise has lost a lot since they took the ‘ship what seems like an incredibly long eighteen months ago. WR Demarcus Robinson has been signed to take some pressure off of the recouping Cooper Kupp. G/C Steve Avila was drafted to toughen up a soft and talentless interior Oline, and QB Stetson Bennett is the new guy in the wings for when Matt Stafford goes down this season.

    Looking at the Rams 2023 schedule, I think the data models are whack to come up with an over/under of 6.5 wins for this team. I think this team is just as bad as the Cardinals to start the season and maybe worse and I struggle to find four likely wins on their 17-game schedule. In survivor formats, the Rams will have a shot in Week 4 at Indy, and Week 6 versus Arizona. In ATS formats, look for the Rams as a home underdog, as they will be often this season (~75% ATS in ‘22).

    San Francisco 49ers

    SoS: 5th easiest, PW: 10.9, POP: 80.7% 

    Beyond the signing of DT Javon Hargrave, and the drafting of S Ji’Ayir Brown and K Jake Moody, there wasn’t much action in the 49ers preseason, but they didn’t need that. They needed QB Brock Purdy to be healthy heading into the ‘23 and it looks like that’s what they got. That said, the loss of OT Mike McGlinchey can not be underestimated for this offense — dude was a perfect pairing with Trent Williams on the opposite side. The depth is gone on D but the newcomers don’t look like a downgrade.

    Looking at the 49ers 2023 schedule, I have no problem with 11 wins as projected and could go to 13. The weak strength of schedule is apparent in the second half, which features tilts against Tampa Bay, Arizona, Washington, and the Rams. In survivor formats, look for the 49ers in Week 2 at the Rams and again in Week 11 versus Tampa Bay. A definite home ‘dog, Seattle was 3-1 (75%) when visitors were favored in 2022. 

    Seattle Seahawks

    SoS: 10th easiest, PW: 8.8, POP: 52.0%  

    ‘23 was a good off-season for the Seahawks. WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were already a top receiving pair and JSN was added in the Slot through the draft to give QB Geno Smith a wonderful new weapon. RB Zach Charbonnet is may be RB2 out of the ‘23 draft, and fellow draftee OT/G Anthony Bradford is no slouch. CB Devon Witherspoon could be a great pick in the first round (or not) and DE/OLB Derick Hall is slated to add pressure from the EDGE.

    Looking at the Seahawks’ 2023 schedule, I think Seattle is going to have a rough road to claim a wildcard playoff spot. The first half of the season includes away games at Detroit, NYG, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. The back half gets the Seahawks games against the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers (twice), which is gnarly and will likely decide if the Seahawks get into the playoffs. In survivor formats, I feel like the Week 10 visit to Jacksonville scheduled for November 12th is a potential trap game for the 49ers. In ATS formats, the 49ers were very strong in ‘22 at home (82%), and as a favorite (71%).

    Wrap-Up

    I believe this is the San Francisco 49ers division to lose in 2023. The Seahawks to me are a wildcard contender that I want to cheer for in the NFC West. The Rams and Cardinals are going nowhere in 2023 but – because they play each other twice and either Houston or Indy once – are worth a gutsy flyer here and there in certain survivor and ATS formats. 

    NFL FAQs

    How do you play football survival pool?

    Players pick one team each week they think will win the game outright. They may only pick a team ONCE per season, meaning you can't pick the same team twice in one season. If their pick is correct, the player survives another week and continues to play. An incorrect pick eliminates the player from the contest entirely. This is sometimes called an elimination or suicide pool. The last person standing wins.

    How to make a football pool?

    A football pool generally requires the creation of a shareable spreadsheet (like Google Sheets) so that members may pick teams. Then depending on the game type, creators must use several kinds of formulas (e.g. CountIF), data validation, and conditional formatting. Or, you can just use football pool hosting service like RunYourPool where we do all the work for you!

    How to run a weekly football pool?

    In order to run a football pool, you must first crown yourself as Pool Commissioner. Begin by picking a game type like Survivor or Pick'Em. You'll want to establish rules before inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join. As commissioner, you make the rules and also need to enforce them equally and fairly.

    What is a football survivor pool?

    In a Football Survivor Pool, players choose one team weekly they think will win. Usually, a team can be picked one time per season. Picks are made "straight up," no spreads necessary. If a pick is correct, members survive another week. An incorrect pick eliminates the player, unless a mulligan is used.

    How does a football pool work?

    Football pools are games of skill played among a group of people. There are a variety of pool types to fit every players needs, from casual to competitive. Pool commissioners can set up pools manually, or use a hosting service like RunYourPool whiel still customizing your own settings. Some examples include NFL Squares, NFL Survivor, NFL Pick 'Em, and Playoff Brackets.

    What is an NFL pickem pool?

    In an NFL pick’em pool, simply pick the outcome of each NFL game throughout the season. You can pick straight up winners or losers, or pick each game against the spread.

    How to play a football pool?

    The way one plays a football pool varies on the game type. For example, in Survivor, you pick one team to win each week and can't pick that team again. Guess wrong and you lose. Another example is Pick'em Pools in which you simply pick every game each week.

    How does a fantasy football pool work?

    Fantasy football pools don’t involve a traditional fantasy football draft. You can have as many members in your pool as you’d like, meaning no more 12 or 14 team limits! You pick a new lineup of players each week, and once you use a player once, you can’t use them again for the rest of the season.

    What is a fantasy football pool?

    A fantasy football pool is similar to a traditional fantasy football league but without the draft. Pick a new lineup each week, and once you use a player, you can’t use them for the rest of the season. Your players will receive points based on their in-game stats, and the member with the most points at the end of the season is the winner.

    What is a football pool?

    "Football Pool" is a broad term for a group of people competitively guessing the outcome of one or more football games. There are many types of formats, each assigning winners differently. They can be played informally between friends or through a more formalized system. They are often considered a great alternative to fantasy football given the ease of playing, although there are fantasy football pools as well.

    How do football pool squares work?

    There are different kinds of football square pools. Most have a 10x10 grid with one team for the rows and columns. In an attempt to win, participants select a square where they believe the last digit number of each team's score will intersect at the end of each quarter, and the game's end.

    How do you play football squares pools?

    To play a football squares pool, you're going to want to pick the squares with the best odds. As winners are determined by the point totals at the end of each quarter, try to consider options where scores are most common. Some of the most popular squares include 7-3, 7-0, 7-7, and 0-0. Numbers divisible by seven are good starting points.

    How many squares in a football pool?

    In a traditional football squares pool, a grid is sectioned off into 100 squares with 10 columns and 10 rows. This accounts for a direct relationship between each possible digit from 0 to 9 on both the X and Y axis. For smaller square grids like 5x5, multiple numbers can be assigned to each column and row.

    How to play squares football pools?

    Football squares are played by creating a grid, in which Team 1 takes the column and Team 2 the rows. In some cases, participants may claim as many squares as they like. In others, commissioners limit them to one. At the quarter times and end of the game, the winner is decided at the point the scores final digit intersect.

    What is a football squares pool?

    Also called Grid, Block, or Box Pools, Football Squares Pools can be played with any single game, but are most popular during the Super Bowl. Pool members claim squares on a 25, 50, or 100-square grid by putting their information in the square. Game scores are matched to the winning square(s), usually with winners being determined every quarter.

    How to read a football pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

    How do you play football credits pool?

    In the credits format, all players start with the same number of credits. Players make picks each week by risking a certain number of credits on games, assigning more credits to the picks with a higher confidence level. Members receive double the credits risked for each win. The member with the most credits at the end of the season wins.

    What is a football credits pool?

    In Football Credits Pools, players start with the same number of credits. They then make picks each week by risking a number of credits on games, assigning more to the picks they have more confidence in getting right. Members double credits risked for each win. The member with the highest credits at the end of the season wins.

    How to run a football pool?

    How you decide to run a football pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.

    How do you play football confidence pool?

    A football confidence pool is played straight up, not with a point spread. Not only do members pick the winning teams, they must back up their picks by giving them a relative confidence ranking. Your score reflects the number of confidence points given to winning teams. So if your confidence for a team winning is '1', then you can only win one point at most. If your confidence for a team winning is '5', then you can win five points for a win. The member with the most credits at the end wins.

    What is a football confidence pool?

    "Football Confidence Pool" refers to how you rank the teams that you think will win each week. For example, in the NFL, there are often 16 games weekly. In this scenario, you would rank each game from 16 to 1, based on the your confidence in that team winning.

    How do you play football margin pool?

    Margin pools are an NFL pool format that rewards members for picking a winning team each week. Pool commissioners can decide whether they award points equal to a winning teams margin of victory or the point spread for that game. When a commissioner chooses the point spread option, this format is often referred to as an NFL Underdog Pool.

    What is a football margin pool?

    In a Football Margin Pool, you are awarded points for picking a winning team. Pool commissioners get to decide whether they award points equal to a winning teams margin of victory or the point spread for that game. The player with the most points at the end of the season wins.

    How do you play football 33 point pool?

    The football 33 pool format is a casual pool where members are each assigned an NFL team (these pools are 32 members max, as there are 32 NFL teams). Members win when their team scores 33 points. Options for changing the target score, or having the closest to the target win each week is also available.

    What is a football 33 point pool?

    In the football 33 pool format, each member is assigned a unique NFL team (32 members max). A member will win when their team scores 33 points. This is a casual pool where you can change the target score or the option to have the closest to the target that week win.

    How to run a weekly football pool?

    In order to run a football pool, you must first crown yourself as Pool Commissioner. Begin by picking a game type like Survivor or Pick'Em. You'll want to establish rules before inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join. As commissioner, you make the rules and also need to enforce them equally and fairly.

    What is an NFL Playoff bracket pool?

    NFL Playoff Bracket pools are simple NFL pool formats where members pick every round of the playoffs before they start in an attempt to predict every match up correctly. It's optional to configure a multiplier for each round, or add a tiebreaker option of total points in the Super Bowl.

    How to make a football pool?

    A football pool generally requires the creation of a shareable spreadsheet (like Google Sheets) so that members may pick teams. Then depending on the game type, creators must use several kinds of formulas (e.g. CountIF), data validation, and conditional formatting. Or, you can just use football pool hosting service like RunYourPool where we do all the work for you!

    How to set up a football pool?

    To set up a football pool, you'll need to first choose a pool type like Survivor or Pick'em. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As pool commissioner, you'll enforce these rules and make sure the game runs smoothly throughout the season. Many commissioners use pool hosting sites like RunYourPool to make it easier and more engaging.

    What is a football power ranking playoff pool?

    In a power ranking playoff pool, members rank all 12 NFL teams competing in the playoffs from strongest (12 points) to weakest (1 point). Picks are made only ONCE before any games begin. Members are awarded the number of points assigned to a team when they win. Commissioners can optionally set up a point multiplier for each playoff round.

    What is a football confidence pool?

    "Football Confidence Pool" refers to how you rank the teams that you think will win each week. For example, in the NFL, there are often 16 games weekly. In this scenario, you would rank each game from 16 to 1, based on the your confidence in that team winning. This is similar to the Playoff Pool Power Ranking, just less teams.

    How to run a football pool?

    How you decide to run a football pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.

    What is a football playoff precision pool?

    In a playoff precision pool, members attempt to pick the winner of every playoff game each week. You can decide if it’s straight up or on a point spread picks, but point totals are also added. Points are awarded for correct picks AND for how close to the correct combined point total they were.

    How to read a football pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

    What is a Super Bowl Prop Bets Pool?

    A Super Bowl Prop Bet Pool is a fun and thrilling way to compete against friends and family during the big game! It's a simple questionaire of prop betting questions revolving around the Super Bowl, and whoever earns the most points based off correct answers wins!

    How does a Super Bowl Prop Bets Pool work?

    Pool members simply fill out a wide range of prop questions, each question worth a different value. Commissioners decide on the point value for each question, along with the amount of questions. Whichever member earns the most points based on corret answers wins the pool.

    What is a football Super Bowl Squares pool?

    Also called Grid, Block, or Box Pools, Football Squares Pools can be played with any single game, but are most popular during the Super Bowl. Pool members claim squares on a 25, 50, or 100-square grid by putting their information in the square. Game scores are matched to the winning square(s), usually with winners being determined every quarter.

    What is a prop bet?

    Prop bets are any sort of pick or wager on a game that has nothing to do with the score or the final score outcome. Props can range from game types, to team types and even player types - such as who will score the game's first and last touchdowns? Other props, such as novelty or exotic, feature bets on things such as the coin flip or the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

    How to read a football pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

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