NFC West Week 5 PreviewBy Daniel J.
The St. Louis Rams shook things up in the NFC West this week by defeating the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals last night 17-3. The West is now up for grabs more than ever this week as the Seahawks look to pull to within a game back, while the 49ers hope to match Arizona at 4-1 atop the division. Here are the remaining matchups this week in the NFC West.
Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)
The Hawks and the Panthers are both coming off disappointing losses this week and will look to right the ship here in week five. After falling 19-13 to St. Louis last week, Seattle will look to correct their mistakes, which included turnovers and penalties this week on the road at Carolina. The Panthers, who have lost their last two contests, will look towards Cam Newton to keep the offense clicking, this time resulting in a much-needed win.
The Panthers will probably try to establish a running game early, as is their MO, but Seattle should be able to meet them in the trenches with the second best ranked run defense so far this season, allowing just 62.8 yards per game on the ground. The Hawks will also attempt to get their own rushing attack going with Marshawn Lynch, who has already racked up 423 yards. Seattle is currently the only team in the NFL with more rushing yards than passing. However, this stat will likely force Carolina to stack multiple men in the box to defend the run and dare Russell Wilson to throw the ball downfield.
This game will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes (turnovers and penalties) and who can stop the other’s run game and control the clock. Both reams have young QBs that could make mistakes and both teams have solid run games, but Seattle’s defense seems to be somewhat stronger in both the run defense category as well as in the pass rush. For that reason I like Seattle to cover +3 in the spread and most likely win outright against the Panthers this week.
Buffalo Bills (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)
After suffering an upsetting loss two weeks ago to Minnesota, the 49ers regrouped and routed the New York Jets 34-0 last week. Meanwhile, after starting strong, the Bills got gashed last week by the reenergized offense of the New England Patriots, losing 52-28. The Bills will have to overcome some injuries at running back and figure out a way to contain San Francisco’s balanced offensive attack in this one, while the 49ers simply need to focus on doing what they do best; running the west coast offense proficiently, while preventing the big homerun plays that Buffalo sometimes likes to go for with Steve Johnson.
Both teams have had solid offenses through week 4, scoring over 25 points per game, but the big difference between these teams is on the defensive side of the ball, where Buffalo has struggled mightily and where San Fran has thrived. The Bills are giving up over 32 points per game and more than 135 opponent rushing yards per contest, while the Niners are allowing just over 16 points per game and less than 80 rushing yards per game.
The Bills will likely be unable to stop San Francisco’s multi-dimensional offense and will lose on the road this week, however, I think they will be able to hang tough and cover the +10 point spread they are up against. I know the 49ers shut out the Jets last week, but the Bills strong offensive line and at times, potent passing attack should fuel some early-game scoring that will keep them in the game. Look for the 49ers to win this one, but for the Bills to cover and keep things closer than many may think.