NFC West Breakdown: Week 10
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.)
The NFC West is what we thought it was. It is Arizona’s for the taking, as they conclude week 11 with a four game lead and seven to play. However week 11 took us to the very last second of Monday Night Football in order to determine that fact. The Cardinals did prevail and do take the large lead. Clearly, this is the Cardinals year. The 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams are now all 2-7 and in a dogfight for last place. Two weeks most would argue the Rams would give the best fight for second place. Now, they have reverted back to league doormat. The Seahawks came so close to finding victory on the road back east in Miami, however still came up short. Then there are the 49ers, now probably the favorites to finish in second. A 6-10 record probably gets that done and after being a part the most exciting NFC West game of the season Monday night, the Niners may be worth watching for the last seven weeks. As Mike Singletary so succinctly put it though about 20 times in his postgame press conference, they must find a way to finish. That’s it, just finish.
Arizona Cardinals (6-3):
With a start to a game you almost expected to happen if you’re a Cardinals fan, at least most expected the Cardinals would settle down and take care of business. Not this week. San Francisco was able to maintain the lead well into the fourth quarter, although the Cardinals certainly had their chances to take leads earlier. However, the lack of a running game and once again, poorly timed penalties, the Cardinals kept the Niners in the game up until the end, eventually winning 29-24. San Francisco had their own chances to put the game away, however they were unable to overcome their own mistakes to come up with a huge road victory. You almost have to think this was payback for the way this game ended last year in OT after it appeared the Cardinals would win but allowing defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory. Kurt Warner had another MVP type night, throwing for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns. Don’t you think if the Niners had a do over they would hand the ball off to Frank Gore instead of Michael Robinson on that last play? Yeah, me too.
Off to Seattle. Finally the Cardinals will see the Seahawks in week 11. Even though Seattle is struggling, it will still be a tough test for the Cardinals. The Cards must reduce the mental mistakes. That means no unsportsmanlike penalties, no false starts in a place known for, well, false starts and no turnovers, something the Cardinals were able to avoid Monday night. Being four games up with seven to play, a victory in Seattle all but wraps this division up for good.
It’s hard to imagine games going any worse for the Rams than Sunday against the Jets. Losing 47-3 after using both quarterbacks, neither of whom inspired any confidence. Marc Bulger and Trent Green might be the ill conceived tandem since John McCain and Sarah Palin. After falling behind 40-0 by halftime, Torry Holt I’m sure was looking for a plane ticket back to St. Louis.
Off to San Francisco. If San Francisco plays anything like they did in Arizona Monday night, St. Louis may be in for as long a day as they had in New York. San Francisco came within 2 yards of defeating the Cardinals. The Rams may be lucky to get 2 first downs in San Francisco they way they are playing right now. Marc Bulger will be the starter in San Francisco on Sunday as he seems to be the lesser of two evils right now for an offense that is seemingly loaded with talent but refuses to use it to it’s full potential. It would also help to be healthy, something St. Louis has not enjoyed for one second this season.
Mike Singletary most likely did not have to drop any pants on Monday night. After blazing to a 7-0 lead on the opening kickoff, they failed to relinquish the lead until late in the game and then eventually losing to the Cardinals 29-24. If Frank Gore doesn’t trip on the 2 yard line or they don’t make the ridiculous call to hand the ball off to Michael Robinson on the last play, the Niners would be looking at 3-6 instead of 2-7. Shaun Hill showed guts and the type of passion Mike Singletary is looking for. He still looked young though after throwing two interceptions that would have been returned for touchdowns if not for Cardinals penalties. Too bad Allen Rossum couldn’t return kicks all night, right?
They host the Rams this week. There will be extreme disappointment in the Bay Area if the Niners can’t handle one of the leagues poorest offenses. Shaun Hill should have the starting quarterback job for the rest of the season. They should continue handing the ball to Frank Gore, but not to the point where he is being used so exclusively it hurts play calling at crucial times. Receivers Jason Hill and Josh Morgan showed the nation on Monday night they may be for real. They may be weapons Shaun Hill can use for the remaining seven games to help pull off at least three or four victories.
Seattle continues to want to do anything but look back. This has been a season full of disappointment for anyone affiliated with the Seahawks. A trip to Miami nearly ended in victory, however a failed two-point conversion combined with a failed fourth and 9 on the Dolphins 49 on the final drive once again sent the Seahawks packing for home in defeat. Quarterback Seneca Wallace played well enough to win in south Florida, throwing 21-38 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. However Miami did another team in with the now popular Wildcat formation and Miami’s Ricky Williams made a reappearance with 105 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Seattle should be looking forward to this week when they host the Arizona Cardinals. As good as the Cardinals have been and as bad as the Seahawks have been, Seattle has proven to be a tough place for the Cardinals to win games. Last year they were defeated soundly 42-21 after Kurt Warner threw 5 interceptions. Granted that was last year, however with Arizona’s penchant for playing poorly on the road, don’t be surprised to find this a closer game than many will predict.