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How Bad is the NFC West?

October 18th, 2007 · No Comments

Out of all the divisions in the NFL, how bad is the NFC West? This is an interesting question that will be dealth with in parts.

First lets look at the teams who comprise this not so talented division. The four teams are listed in the order of their current standings in the division as of Week 6.

Arizona Cardinals: Record 3 - 3

Seattle Seahawks: Record 3 - 3

San Francisco 49er’s: Record 2 - 3

St. Louis Rams: Record 0-6

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals seem to be the strongest team in the division. Although they share the same win-loss record as Seattle, they beat the Seahawks earlier in the season and also beat the Rams. The Cardinals have looked better this year than they have looked in a long time. New coach Ken Wisenhunt has a certain presence to him and his team seems to be playing harder than I recall seeing them play since the days of coach Vince Tobin.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they lost starting quarterback Matt Leinart to a season ending injury two weeks ago and this past weekend, Kurt Warner was injured while hosting the Carolina Panthers. Although Kurt’s injury is to his non-throwing elbow, it is still affecting him. Kurt may be able to play next week, but the chances that he can remain healthy throughout the season are slim to none. This leaves the Cardinals with the “Two Tims”. Tim Rattay and Tim Hasslebeck that is. Neither Tim has been especially effective as a quarterback in the NFL.

Even with its injury problems mounting, the Cardinals are tied with the Seahawks for the lead in the pathetic NFC West, where the four teams have a combined 8-15 record. The only NFC West team that didn’t record a loss on Sunday was San Francisco. Why did San Fran do so well? They had a bye, that’s why.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is a team that has had high praise and expectations heaped upon it. It has won the division for the past 3 years and went to the SuperBowl one of them. Although they are in 2nd place with the same record as the 1st place Arizona Cardinals, they do not look like a playoff contender.

What is the problem with Seattle this year? There are more than one answer, but let’s look at the running game 1st. In 2005, the Seahawks were running the ball very well. Shaun Alexander was having a record breaking season and regularly rushing for over 100 yards per game. Unfortunatley, this is not the same team as 2005. Back then the Hawks had Steve Hutchinson next to Walter Jones on the left side of the offensive line. Even when teams knew they were going to run it at them it didn’t matter because they still couldn’t stop the Seahawks from running on them.

Shaun Alexander is having alot of the bad running blame pointed directly at him. Is it all Shaun’s fault? Yes and No. Is Shaun running as hard as he should? It doesn’t look like it. Is he hitting the hole and driving people backwards? Definitely not. Did he ever? Not really. When Shaun was at his best was when the line was opening big gaping holes for him to slip through. Is Seattle’s line capable of opening those big holes? It sure doesn’t look like it. 2 weeks ago in Pittsburg, Shaun had 25 yards on 11 carries. Last week against the formerly winless Saints, Shaun had 37 yards rushing on 14 carries. The Seahawks running game is more like a bad joke.

Let’s not forget the defense. Seattle ponied up some big bucks during the offseason to shore up its defense especially for the passing game and 3rd down conversions. So far, this defense doesn’t look any better than it did last year. It certainly couldn’t stop the faltering Saints. The Seahawks are still my favorite to take this division, but they don’t look like they can go any further.

San Francisco 49′ers

Here is the team that all of the analysts were gooing all over during the pre-season. Alex Smith coming in with more experience. Frank Gore who had a breakout season last year. A revamped defense looking ready to smother opposing teams. The addition of Darryl Jackson, the leading Seahawks receiver last year, added at wide receiver.

Where did all of the San Fran hype go? It appears that the 49ers can’t run the ball any better than they can pass it. They have struggled thus far this year to get the offense on track. It hasn’t helped that starting quarterback Alex Smith was injured 3 weeks ago and backup QB Trent Dilfer has been filling in.

The Seahawks took Alex Smith out of action and played the rest of the game against their former quarterback who did not perform well. He did not perform well the next week against the mighty defense of the Baltimore Ravens either. The 49′ers seem about equal with the Cardinals and the Seahawks and could just as easily win this division.

St. Louis Rams

The “Greatest Show On Turf”. Is this a comedy? It might as well be. The Lambs, oops, I mean Rams, at 0-6, have matched the worst start in the 70-year history of the franchise. The Rams look bad, real bad. They are riddled with injuries to their offensive line. The Rams defense can’t seem to stop much of any thing, and they are without their star running back Steven Jackson.

Marc Bulger has been hurt as well with broken ribs. Steven Jackson has a groin injury and will play again this season probably quite soon. Marc Bulger is slated to start this next game which just happens to be against the struggling Seahawks. The Rams have already kissed their season goodbye, but don’t think they won’t come out playing for pride and honor next week or the week after that. They have plenty of talent on offense when they are healthy and the defense played well against the Ravens last week. But playing well against the hapless Ravens offense isn’t saying much.

Tags: NFL Football

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