NFC West Breakdown: Week 12
(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’m not quite sure what else new we learned about the least exciting division in football? The leader of the pack, the Arizona Cardinals, continued to prove they can’t beat the good teams, even at home. The 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams all continued to prove they enjoy their status in next year’s NFL Draft by continuing to lose. Of those three teams, only Seattle managed to play a close game. The division was outscored 119-71 and three of the four teams played at home. The NFC West is becoming a greater comedy than The Office. Funny thing is, even as well as Arizona has played at times, they still look like a team that really wants to make things as interesting as possible. The hope has got to be that Arizona beats Philadelphia on Thursday night because the last thing this laughing stock of a division needs is for it’s winner to back into the playoffs and end up with a .500 record.
Arizona Cardinals (7-4):
Arizona did just enough to lose to the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants 37-29. It was the first home loss of the season for the Cardinals. Last week I said they had to be darn near perfect to win. They hardly came close. The special teams was anything but special. Three kickoff returns for 180 yards in the first half gave the Giants excellent field position and enough offense to put the Cards away. Even after that, the Cards were only down 17-12 at halftime. However a couple of second half turnovers and a great blitzing Giants defense was enough to keep the Cardinals from going 5-0 at home this season.
Happy Thanksgiving! The Cardinals fly to Philadelphia on Wednesday for a Thanksgiving night celebration in the City of Brotherly Loved. After Philadelphia benched starting quarterback Donovan McNabb on Sunday against the Ravens and ended up being crushed 36-7, expect Philadelphia to come out with much better resolve on Thursday night at home in front of their fans. Philadelphia is close to feeling the knockout punch that will have them miss the playoffs for the third season in their past four since going to the Super Bowl. Expect Arizona to take advantage of a disappointing loss to the Giants, one they felt they should have won, and come out firing, scoring on both sides of the ball.
I’ve almost run out of adjectives to describe this team. However, don’t despair, I’ve still got some in the tank. My favorite this week – bungling. The Rams are a bungling team. 207 yards of total offense. Starting quarterback Marc Bulger was out of the game early and the Rams inserted the man who is three seasons too late on retirement, Trent Green. Green threw four interceptions. Even Brock Berlin got into the mix. I half expected the Rams to bring back Jim ‘Don’t Call Me Chris” Everett or Tony Banks before it was all said and done. Chicago soundly defeated the Rams 27-3 and left many wondering when the bleeding would end.
To answer that question, the answer is not this week. Miami comes to town, much improved over last season. Miami is coming off a tough home loss to New England. St. Louis will be a nice rebound game for them. Marc Bulger’s status is uncertain. One thing is for certain though, St. Louis will have a hard time finding another win this season. Questions is, can they fight off Detroit and Cincinnati as the NFL’s worst? At least Detroit, even at 0-11, can score points. St. Louis right now would have a hard time scoring at the Bunny Ranch in Las Vegas.
The 49ers played well on Sunday – for like 16 or 17 minutes to start the game. Then it was all Cowboys, who eventually proved too much for the 49ers, winning 35-22. Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens had a season league high 213 yards on 7 receptions. A bright spot for the 49ers on Sunday was the game that receiver Issac Bruce had, catching 8 passes for 125 yards and 1 touchdown.
Staying on the road in week 13 as the 49ers go play where the Buffalo roam. The Buffalo Bills that is. After a disappointing Monday night loss last week to Cleveland, the Bills rebounded nicely on Sunday with the demolition of the Kansas City Chiefs 54-27. I don’t think San Francisco will allow Buffalo to score 54, however, they did allow 35 to Dallas, so that is certainly a possibility on Sunday. San Francisco is most likely staring loss number 9 in the face.
A valiant effort, but not enough on Sunday against the Washington Redskins, losing 20-17. Seattle hung with the wild card contenders all day, however Clinton Portis was too much running back for the Hawks defense, allowing Portis to run free for 143 yards. On the flip side, with Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throwing for only 103 yards with two picks, maybe it is time to sit him for the remainder of the season and allow Charlie Frye or Seneca Wallace to get their reps in. Heck, even Trent Green managed to throw for 219 yards. 103 yards won’t cut it in any league, even when your running back hits the century mark in rushing yardage.
Seattle is set for a short week in preparation for a Thanksgiving Day Cowboys feast in the Big D. Seattle unfortunatley doesn’t appear to to have the horses to stay up with Tony Romo and Terrell Owens, who on Sunday had seven receptions and 213 yards, a season league high. That combination along with a Dallas front four on defense will be enough to give Seattle their 10th loss in coach Mike Holmgren’s final season, one which many thought would give Seattle at least 10 wins and another divisional title. Not so much, instead it’s Dallas who has looked more like the team we thought they were over the past two weeks en route to a possible wild card berth. Dallas still has work to do and appears hungry to get back what was almost lost and that’s the swagger that comes along with Cowboys football, winning football. That’s a bad holiday receipe for the Hawks to swallow.