NFC West Round-Up; Potential NFC Title Game Preview?
The NFC West last week re-affirmed the notion that it continues to be the strangest division in pro football. After several seasons of less than stellar performances from its’ four teams, the West has seen an emergence that started last year and has continued into this season as all four teams got off to good starts.
The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams have come back to Earth a bit, but the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are clearly setting their sights on the playoffs. It was ironic therefore, that when the Rams and 49ers hooked up last Sunday afternoon in the city by the bay, that the game would end up as oddly as it did. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…. A tie game. Yes, a tie game in the National Football League. While the Seahawks were handing it to the Jets in Seattle, the Niners and the Rams were playing to a 24-24 tie that was filled with injury, intrigue, poor officiating and horrible clock management. Nice to see the NFC West restore itself as one of the stranger divisions in the history of the game.
The Standings: San Francisco 6-2-1, Seattle 6-4, Arizona 4-5, St. Louis 3-5-1
The Games this week… Seattle is on their Bye
New York Jets (+3 1/2) at St. Louis – After dealing with the horrendous outcome of their game in San Francisco, the Rams have the ‘pleasure’ of returning home to play the travelling soap opera that is the New York Jets. This game is going to boil down to who can handle the adversity better. Can the Rams re-group after basically blowing several different opportunities to put the game away last week? Can the Jets set aside the bitterness and ugliness that has enveloped them this week in relation to anonymous comments made about Tim Tebow?
What the Rams have going for them is possibly Steven Jackson who is healthier than any other point in the 2012 season. He is coming off of two really solid games and is once again a must-start in fantasy leagues as well. The Jets are giving up 145 yards per game (30th) on the ground which could mean a huge day for Jackson. The Jets will need to get Shonn Greene going as well for them to take pressure off of Mark Sanchez. If you want my opinion on Tim Tebow, I say if the Jets lose this game or fall way behind, you play him and see what he can do. Worst thing he can do is play decently enough to have other teams inquire about him for next year. I like the Rams to win by a touchdown.
Chicago at San Francisco (-4 1/2) – The ‘Concussion’ Bowl heads to San Fran where it looks like Alex Smith will be able to go for the Niners while Jay Cutler’s status is a little more up in the air at this time. This should still be a great defensive battle even if the quarterbacks are less than 100%. The Bears and Niners are each in the top seven against the run, but each showed vulnerability in their games last week. San Francisco gave up over 100 on the ground to Steven Jackson while the Bears were gashed by Arian Foster of the Texans. The team that makes the better overall adjustments will have an advantage.
If the back-up QBs have to go, I actually like Colin Kaepernick a whole lot better than I do Jason Campbell of the Bears. Despite Campbell being the veteran, I think Kaepernick offers more in terms of the run and the pass and will do more to keep the Bears’ defense on its’ heels. Whether or not these teams will meet again in January is uncertain, but being able to notch a win against the other goes a long way towards one of them being there that’s for sure. I like the balance of the Niners to win this one by ten.