NFC West Breakdown: Week 6
(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.)
On Sunday, the NFC West once again showed us who the best team is in the division is – The Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were the only team to come away with a victory on Sunday, thus extending their divisional lead to 2 games over San Francisco. At 4-2, Arizona has their best start since 2002. This is also the first time since moving to Arizona, the Cards have a two game lead in the division. Apparently a coaching change was a good thing in St. Louis, as they got their first win, while Seattle and San Francisco continued their losing ways.
Arizona Cardinals (4-2):
The Cardinals won a wild one on Sunday. Their were so many stories to Sunday’s victory over the Dallas Cowboys, it’s hard to figure out where to start and where to end. I can make that easy, it started with a 93 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by J.J. Arrington and ended with a blocked punt by Sean Morey with recovery by Monty Beisel for a touchdown in overtime. It looked for awhile that even though the Cardinals played hard on defense and special teams, that mistakes would once again cost this team a chance to become one of the NFL’s elite teams. The Cards, along with the Cowboys, were each penalized 12 times. The Cards also lost the turnover battle 3-1, although easily could have had a couple of more turnovers, which were taken away because of the way the NFL rulebook is set up. In the end it was all about special teams on a day the defense played well for all but a couple of big plays and the offense sputtered for all but a quarter and a half.
The Cards have to be looking forward to their bye week next week before going back on the road to face a very tough Carolina Panther team on October 26th. The week off should give Anquan Boldin more healing time. The victory on Sunday ensures the Cardinals will enter the month of November with a winning record and still in first place, regardless of what happens in two weeks.
The Rams overcame a 4th quarter come back from the Washington Redskins to post their first victory of the season, winning at FedEx Field 19-17. The game marked the debut of interim had coach Jim Haslett. It looked almost immediately though it would be another long day, as running back Steven Jackson fumbled on the first drive at their own 3 yard line. The Skins Clinton Portis ran the ball in from their on the next play to take a quick 7-0 lead. However St. Louis clamped up and eventually took a 16-7 lead before Washington scored 10 points to take a late 1 point lead. St. Louis then lined up and kicked a game winning field goal as time expired to give St. Louis their first win and more importantly, off the very bottom of most experts power rankings.
No one said life was fair. Things don’t get any easier for the Rams. They head home to play Dallas next week. Dallas will be hungry for a win after losing a tough one in Arizona on Sunday. It could be several weeks before St. Louis sees a win again, as after Dallas, they go to New England, although New England is becoming more and more of a beatable opponent as they lost big in San Diego on Sunday night. Then Arizona comes to town in three weeks.
The 49ers remained in second place on Sunday in the NFC West, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing, as they lost to Philadeplia 40-26 in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated. San Francisco took a 26-17 lead into the 4th quarter on Sunday before making too many mistakes and allowing Philadelphia to score 23 unanswered points en route to the victory, with the exclamation mark being J.T. O’Sullivan throwing an interception for touchdown to Philadelphia’s Juqua Parker.
With each NFC West team playing the entire NFC East this season, common phrase I’ve been using, “it doesn’t get any easier”, couldn’t hold more true for next week for the 49ers. They travel to New York to play the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants next Sunday. The 49ers will need to eliminate their mistakes and turnovers to have any shot at winning in the Big Apple. Even then, it will be mighty tough to go into a stadium that has not been kind to opponents so far this season.
Trying to figure out if this team is this bad because of injury or is just plain not a good football team. I’ve got to believe it still is a little more of the injury bug as Seahawks were without their starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in a 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers. With an offense that sputtered all day Sunday, many fans left well before the final whistle and left many wondering what’s next for the defending NFC West champs. Charlie Frye only threw for 83 yards on Sunday and Hasselbeck is going to go in for more testing on his knee this week, which is the last thing Seahawks fans want to hear.
Seattle goes to Tampa Bay next week. Tampa is 4-2 and coming off a big victory on Sunday against divisional rival Carolina 27-3. The game is on Sunday night football in front of a national television audience. Coach Mike Holmgren instead may want to take this nightmare of a season so far and go hide. Unfortunately the games must go on and Seattle will need to somehow find a way to stop the bleeding. If Hasselbeck misses any extended amount of time, their season may expire on them well before the last snap on December 28th in Arizona.