NFC West Showdown Looms for Thursday NightBy Marc U.
This past Sunday, two things occurred that the majority of football fans might not have been expecting. The Seattle Seahawks rallied form a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. To the South, the New York Giants were putting a severe beat-down on Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers. While some may have seen each of those teams winning, I have a hard time believing that anyone could have seen how those teams won. The great thing now is that the Seahawks and 49ers tee it up tomorrow night in what should be Act I in a two part battle royal for NFC West Supremacy.
The Standings: Arizona Cardinals 4-2, San Francisco 49ers 4-2, Seattle Seahawks 4-2, St. Louis Rams 3-3
Seattle Seahawks (+7) at San Francisco 49ers (Thurs) – The 49ers enter the game with the league’s top-ranked defensive unit. The Seahawks are 4th. The Niners are second against the pass while the Seahawks are 13th. In rushing defense, the 49ers are ninth while the men of the Northwest are second. Need I say more to make you believe this should be an epic defensive battle at Candlestick?
This game is much more about the defenses though because there are some guys who may have jobs riding on their performances. Alex Smith, the San Francisco quarterback, was pressured at will by the Giants Sunday and threw three interceptions. His back-up, Colin Kaepernick has been seeing more and more time in the offense are some are starting to speculate that Smith should start looking over his shoulder. I’m not ready to do that just yet, but another tough game and the possibility becomes all too relevant.
For the Seahawks, the rookie Wilson continues to do positive things with the ball at the right times. Statistically, he is not setting the world on fire like Andrew Luck, Brandon Weeded and Ryan Tannehill in terms of yards but he isn’t doing anything to cost his team wins. He’s currently rated 30th in the league in passing and while that number will need to come up by season’s end, letting the defense and the running game dictate will help him tremendously.
I like the 49ers to win the game tomorrow night, but I like the Seahawks to keep it well within seven. Both teams will try to establish ground attacks in order to set up play-action, but as we’ve seen so many times before, the team that makes fewer mistakes in terms of penalties and turnovers will win. Jim Harbaugh does not take embarrassment well and I guarantee his Niners will be ready.
Arizona Cardinals (+6) at Minnesota Vikings – Cards QB Kevin Kolb is going to be on the shelf for a few weeks with a rib injury so the ball gets turned over to John Skelton who was the opening day starter in Arizona. The Cards have now dropped two straight after opening 4-0 and while the defense has been admirable in both losses, I think the Cards’ ship is starting to leak oil. Minnesota is coming off a game in which they were beaten in a shootout by Washington and allowed Robert Griffin III to run like crazy through them. Skelton is no RGIII and the Cards don’t even have a running back with Griffin’s skills so I love the Vikings to cover here and get a nice home win.
Green Bay Packers (-6) at St. Louis Rams – The Aaron Rodgers that torched the Houston Texans Sunday night was the same one I remember tearing up the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. His passes were deadly accurate and his timing nearly flawless. This was against an unbeaten Texans’ team with an outstanding defense to boot. Oh, and this was on the road as well. The Rams have played every opponent tough his year despite being 3-3 so they are capable of winning but Rodgers has that look in his eye again and I love the Packers here to win a shootout and cover.