NFC West Round-Up; Big Monday Nighter Coming Up
The NFC West finally saw a little separation last week as San Francisco knocked off Seattle and Arizona and Seattle both lost interconference match-ups to Minnesoate and Green Bay respectively. This week, there are some games that take on even more significance especially the Monday night affair in the desert between the 49ers and the Cardinals.
The Standings: San Francisco 5-2, Arizona 4-3, Seattle 4-3, St. Louis 3-4
New England (-7) at St. Louis (London) – This game is big for both teams. At 4-3, the Patriots are coming off a physical overtime win against the Jets and they are desperatley in need of some momentum. The Rams are seeing San Fran pull further and further away and must take now go to London to try and beat Tom Brady. New England is an interesting team right now as they just seem to be lacking the intangibles they always seemed to have under Bill Belichick in the past. St. Louis finally saw a little more production from Steven Jackson last week and that will be key to keeping the pressure off of Sam Bradford.
There are two numbers that immediately jump out at me regarding the Pats. First, they are 0-2 against the NFC West this year with losses to Arizona and Seattle. The second number is more endearing as they are 12-4 straight up away from home in their last 16 games on the road. I like this game to be close earyl, but the Pats will cover the seven.
Seattle (+1 1/2) at Detroit – The Lions are on the brink of a potential meltdown as they turned it over three times inside the red zone in Chicago Monday night in a 13-7 loss. The defense played more than well enough to win, but the offense was just plain bad and now they play an even higher-ranked defense. Seattle comes off a tough loss to San Francisco last Thursday night and should be well-rested. Both teams need the win as they always do, but Detroit is quickly slipping out of contention for both the NFC North and the playoffs in general.
Personally, I think this Lions’ team is in trouble. Yes, they play well at home typically, but they are just 2-10-1 over their last 13 games against the spread. I see no reason for that trend not to continue as Seattle will bring the running of Marshawn Lynch indoors which will set up the passing game for Russell Wilson. Look for that spread to actually change a little before game time but right now I love the Seahawks.
San Francisco (-7) at Arizona – This Monday night match-up offers potentially the same type of game the Niners saw with Seattle in their last game. The Cardinals defense is very improved and gave up barely 200 yards to the Vikings last Sunday yet still lost 21-14. The issue as it has been since Kurt Warner left is the offense where John Skelton will once again get the start with Kevin Kolb sidelined with a rib injury. For the Niners, the plan is simple. Run Frank Gore and then run Frank Gore some more and just let Alex Smith manage the game and not feel like he has to win it. Arizona will obviously load up and force Smith to throw as much as possible but with the speed the Niners have at receiver, that could backfire.
This game is huge for the Cards who, like the Rams, cannot afford to fall any further behind a front-runner like the Niners. I haven’t been overly impressed with San Francisco since their dismantling of the Jets in New York but I think they’ll find a way to win but it will be by less than seven.