NFC West Breakdown: Week 14


(Scott Allen writes for Raising Zona, which is FSB’s Arizona Cardinals blog. Representing the rest of the NFC West are 12th Man Rising, Niner Noise. and Ramblin’ Fan.)

It’s a wrap.  The Arizona Cardinals defeated St. Louis on Sunday to win their first divisional championship since 1975, when they were in the NFC East.  The division title, all but wrapped up three weeks ago, didn’t come easy.  They had to endure two tough losses while San Francisco defeated the Bills on the road last week before coming home and upending the Jets.  It’s not how the experts saw this division going this year.  However that’s why the so called experts don’t play the games.  All they can do now is sit back and wonder what a mess this division has come to allow the Cardinals to win the division and the Seahawks tied for last at 2-11.

Arizona Cardinals (8-5):

Looking Back:

NFC West Champions.  That’s all the Cardinals need to say about looking back at their 34-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams.  Kurt Warner had another great day on Sunday.  Although he threw on interception, he still threw for 279 yards on 24-33 passing.  The Cardinals still had a hard time running the ball, but did manage 60 yards rushing.  No matter how you cut it though, this game was all about winning a division title and making the playoffs.

Looking Forward:

Up next:  Minnesota.  It’s a big game for both teams as they fight for the third seed in the NFC.  Minnesota, who leads the NFC North is currently tied with Arizona at 8-5, however have a better conference record than the Cards.  A victory head to head over the Vikings takes care of that business.  Having a third seed versus the 4th can make all the difference in the world in having the possibility of a second home game in the playoffs or not having to face the number one seed until the NFC Championship.

St. Louis Rams (2-11):

Looking Back:

The good news is the Rams managed an offensive touchdown on Sunday.  The bad news, it was on a 6 yard drive set up by an interception.  The Rams were able to put up some yards on the Cardinals on Sunday in their 34-10 loss, however they couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone and even missed a field goal, which coach Jim Haslett called “disappointing”.  The loss gave the Cardinals their NFC West Championship.

Looking Forward:

The only thing the Rams appeared to be looking forward to during Sunday’s game was the off-season.  They allowed Arizona to score 14 quick points in the first quarter and looked failry beat and dejected in the process.  They held Arizona’s offense at bay in the second half, however that does little for their state of mind going into their match-up this week at home against Seattle.  You don’t think there’s a chance for a tie, do you?  Well, just make sure there is no Donovan McNabb sighting.

San Francisco 49ers (5-8):

Looking Back:

The 49ers again played well against a formidable opponent.  The Niners took care of business at home, defeating the New York Jets 24-14.  Another strong defensive effort from the boys in the bay.  Nineers fans have to be excited about the way they have come out the past couple of weeks and put up a good fight.  A bounce here and there and really the 49ers are realistically within a few plays of being in first place in the NFC West.  Maybe they should have made the move to Shaun Hill earlier?

Looking Forward

Heading east again.  Off to Miami.  This one will be tough.  Miami is in a three-way tie for first in the AFC East and have everything to play for.  With the Cardinals being a foregone conclusion as the divisional champion over the past three weeks, it would have been easy for the Niners to fold and play dead like the Rams and start preparing for next season.  However, they have proven they can play with anyone the past two weeks.  After an impressive victory against the Jets on Sunday, they now must take to the road and will need to play error free against the Dolphins to have a chance at pulling off the upset.

Seattle Seahawks (2-11):

Looking Back:

The Seahawks almost made it 2-2 for the NFC West against the AFC East on Sunday.  However a rushing touchdown by New England’s  Sammy Morris with a little more than 2 minutes to go put the Patriots up for good, defeating the Hawks 24-21 in Seattle.

Looking Forward:

A chance for victory on Sunday.  They are off to face divisional foe St. Louis in the Edward Jones Dome this Sunday.  While the Hawks clearly are still playing for pride and have come up just short three of the past four games, the Rams have seemed to resort to playing with less than 100% effort.  I’d be surprised to see the Hawks lose this one.  However, this is the NFC West, the worst division, at least record wise, in the NFL this season.  Anything can happen.  Someone goes home with their third win.

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