NFC West enters 2021 as the best league in football, but there have been a few surprises in the first 10 weeks of the season. NS The Arizona Cardinals were the last undefeated team in the league and finished first in the league all year long, the team everyone at NFC West was after (Arizona was just one win away from its first season in six years) .
NS Los Angeles Rams already a Super Bowl candidate in NFC until the last two weeks, defeated by Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers in fighting games. They failed to win any place against the Cardinals in NFC West, instead they lost a game to the division heads. The San Francisco 49ers have been disappointing over the course of 10 weeks, but appear poised for a playoff by winning two of their last three – one against the Rams to appear in the playoff picture for spot. Ultimate wild card.
NS Seattle Seahawks Football Team have been extremely disappointing throughout the past year. Even the return of Russell Wilson couldn’t beat Seattle’s slide, a slide the Seahawks lost 4/5 and appeared to be tied in their first losing season in 10 years. Seattle could emerge as a player in the division race if they can figure out how to upset Arizona Sunday, so all hope isn’t lost on their NFC West chance.
Even though Arizona and Los Angeles are controlling the division, NFC West was able to get all four teams into the knockout stages with the way the convention went. The division race is distant now, although there are plenty of games that could change course over the next eight weeks.
Here’s how each team can still win NFC West – even the Seahawks, who are currently 4.5 games behind the leader with eight games left.
Arizona Cardinals: Finding a Way to Stop a Run Without JJ Watt
The cardinals’ struggle against the run has really impacted the defense of the top five. Before Watt’s injury, the Cardinals were only allowed on the field for 115.7 yards per game. In the three full games since Watt was hurt, the average rose to 118.7 with one major exception. Arizona allowed 151 and 166 yards of charge in their two losses to Green Bay and Carolina, more of an indicator of their defense than the 39 yards of javelin the Cardinals allowed in their win over the 49ers.
The Cardinals have made 150 dashes five times this season, recording a 3-2 record in those games (0-2 in the last two). When Arizona allows javelin less than 150 yards, the Cardinals are 5-0. Have to face up with Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams starting in December would be a good indicator as the Cardinals run defensive positions as they head into the long run.
Los Angeles Rams: Make the most of the offensive line
The Rams’ offensive line had its problems, having played a role in their two-game miss. This unit has been much better than the San Francisco 49ers, but is still having trouble getting pass protection inside. David Edwards had to struggle to defend left in defending the pass, especially against Tennessee and San Francisco.
How do the Rams combat their pass protection problems in the interior? Head Coach Sean McVay has to call more than nine runs and get away to get through with happiness, especially with Robert Woods being made for the season. Odell Beckham will get his chance in this foul with the way McVay steers his receiver open.
The Rams have pitched 68.04% of the time in the last three games, the third most in NFL. McVay has to keep the game honest and improve on the 23rd-placed attack on the ground. Attack showed they could create holes against San Francisco – now it’s up to McVay to keep the ball on the ground and let attack bully the front line defence.
This will take the pressure off Stafford and the recipients in the process, making the Rams more dangerous when it comes to crime.
San Francisco 49ers: Play Jimmy Garoppolo the rest of the year
Trey Lance is San Francisco’s future quarterback, but he’s clearly not ready to take on the 49ers’ starting midfield role. The 49ers are 4-5 and are vying for a playoff spot in the NFC with a win over the Rams, as Garoppolo gives them the best chance of winning at the moment.
Whether Garoppolo is good enough to take San Francisco to the championship remains to be seen. He completed 66.5% of his passes in 1,936 yards with 10 touches to 5 interceptions (97.6 rating), and got even better with George Kittle back to the offence. Garoppolo has completed 43 of 59 passes (72.9%) for 508 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception (ranked 114.2) since Kittle’s return two weeks ago (Kittle started. hits the ball twice).
Garoppolo knows how to find his top players – Kittle and Deebo Samuel – and the best signal caller to run head coach Kyle Shanahan’s complex offense. The 49ers will need Garoppolo with all of their injuries on the run again, as his arm is the best option to win games and save their season.
Lance could start in 2022. 49ers dropping out of the playoffs is unlikely this year.
Seattle Seahawks: Set up a running game to get Russell Wilson through
The game Seahawks run has been a mess since Chris Carson neck injury. Carson has only played four games, and the Seahawks have averaged 107 yards per game at the start. That’s not huge, but it’s much better than the 94 yards per game the team has achieved in his absence.
Alex Collins averaging 4.1 yards per take this year, but only averaging 10 attempts in the last two games. That number isn’t good enough, putting more pressure on Russell Wilson to perform (and he’s on the verge of a finger injury). When Carson was on the roster, his game-per-game average was 13.5 – another number too low for Seattle’s offensive ability to work.
Seattle doesn’t have the best collection of backrunners, but Carson and Collins could be a one-of-a-kind punch if the Seahawks really run the ball. An average of 23.6 carry a game (25th in the NFL) isn’t good enough with Wilson still in the process of fixing.
“Let Russ Cook” became a thing in Seattle. Seahawks need to get some food off their plate.
https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/how-each-team-can-win-the-wild-nfc-west-injuries-dooming-cardinals-as-rams-have-yet-to-capitalize/ | How Each Team Can Win the NFC West Wild: Injury To The Cardinals As Ram Still Doesn’t Take Advantage