NFC West Breakdown: Week 7
By Scott Allen
(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.)
I am not sure we learned much of anything new in Week 7, other than another NFC West coach bit the bust. Sure, the Rams beat the Cowboys, handily. The Cowboys are a mess though. San Francisco and Seattle both went back east and did just about what everyone thought they would do – lose. The Arizona Cardinals were lucky enough to have the week off and work on mending their injuries. The Rams by far are the talk of the division this week though with their stunner at home. Question is, was the victory over the Cowboys really that stunning? The Cowboys lacked what the Rams had on Sunday – passion. The division still has a climb up the ladder to Arizona and another step is being added to that ladder every week.
Arizona Cardinals (4-2):
Normally underdogs to the bye, the Cardinals most definitely should have enjoyed this weekend. They didn’t lose and head into week eight still with only two losses. They were able to work on getting healthy. Coach Ken Whisenhunt gave them four days off from Thursday till Sunday.
The Cardinals go back east once again to face the Carolina Panthers in week eight. Carolina is coming off a big victory at home over divisional rival New Orleans 30-7. The Cardinals have lost the last three games to Carolina, including their last visit to Charlotte in 2004 when they lost 35-10. The Cardinals will be hoping to get receiver Anquan Boldin back, although Steve Breaston has filled in adequately. After Carolina, the Cards go to St. Louis before coming home on Monday night November 10th against the 49ers.
The Rams may have found new life with coach Jim Haslett. They have already won more games this season than many expected just two weeks ago before the coaching change took place, after thoroughly humiliating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday 34-14. Steven Jackson looked unstoppable for the first time in a long time, rushing for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns. The defense kept the pressure on aging Brad Johnson all day long and that meant the game was over well before halftime.
St. Louis will have a hard time keeping up the winning streak, however with the emotion they are currently playing on, they may just be able to go into Foxboro and pull off an upset. Just go ask Miami how it is done as they were able to do that very thing in week 3. Steven Jackson will need to continue running hard and finding holes that have been hard to come by behind the Rams offensive line.
A bad week for the 49ers. One in which they saw their head coach, Mike Nolan, fired a day after not playing so hot in New York. Quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan I’m guessing would just rather forget going to New York and losing to the Giants on Sunday 29-17. While you look at the scoreboard and see it wasn’t the blowout one might expect, it was a workmanlike performace by the Giants and costly mistakes that did the 49ers in on Sunday. O’Sullivan threw 2 interceptions and San Francisco gave up a safety and a field goal to the Giants in the 4th quarter to pull away. O’Sullivan in their last drive decided to duck out of bounds on fourth down without making a throw downfield, thus costing the 49ers any chance at a comeback. Sounds like the 49ers have ducked out of the season by firing Mike Nolan.
It could be a tough week, a transitional one as they play their first game under interim coach Mike Singletary. The 49ers go home to face the last place Seattle Seahawks, a team they defeated in week two in overtime 33-30. The way the 49ers have been able to play the Seahawks over the past few seasons, San Francisco has to like their chances of improving their record next week at Candlestick. After that game, San Francisco will have a chance to re-group in their bye week before going to Arizona for Monday Night Football.
Seattle’s offense was listless, emotionless, whatever the adjective, Seattle was bad on Sunday night in Tampa, losing 20-10 in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard would have you believe. Seattle only accumulated 176 yards of total offense and a good part of that was late in the game. The telling statistic though was in time of possession. Tampa had more than a 2-1 advantage, holding on to the ball for almost 42 minutes. Seattle’s defense looked tired and beaten for most of the second half. Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace, starting in place of Matt Hasselback, only threw for 73 yards and half of that was in the final few minutes of the game.
Seattle moves on to San Francisco. Again, the Seahawks may be without Matt Hasselback. It is unclear when the Seahawk starter will be able to return to the lineup. Seattle will be looking to atone for the earlier loss to the 49ers in week two, but odds are against them. Life will not get any easier as they will host Philadelphia then treak all the way to Miami in the following two weeks. The struggles look to continue for awhile until the offense is able to get some rhythm and the defense starts to play to its potential, both very daunting tasks at this point.