Last week was a mixed bag for the NFC West. Is it possible that the rest of the league is starting to match its toughness and intensity? Did we overrate the NFC West in the preseason? No matter how you look at it, the NFC West was challenged last week with their best two teams both in close games and the glass of invincibility seemingly broken. However, we move on to another week where they can redeem themselves and regain their dominance. So let’s get right into the NFC West Week 7 Game Previews:
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-5) +3.5
The Cards were in a close battle with the Redskins last week. Carson Palmer made his return and went 28-44 for 250 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions. The Cardinals are the only team in the league who have yet to throw an interception and as long as they continue to do that, they are be very hard to beat. They played a somewhat conservative game last week, which kept the Redskins in the game. Washington actually had the ball with about a minute to go down only 3, but a pick 6 interception by Rashad Johnson sealed the win for the Cardinals to push them to the top of the division.
This week the Cardinals will travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders. It’s a game that they should win, however, in the NFL, you never know. The Raiders are 0-5, but came very close to knocking off the San Diego Chargers last week. They had a lead going into the 4th quarter. The game went back and forth, but a late interception thrown by QB Derek Carr, who played a beautiful game, put the game in the books for Oakland to keep them winless. I expect the cards to lean on Andre Ellington against an Oakland defense that ranks 31st in the league in rush defense, giving up 150 yards per game. This game has blowout potential.
Prediction: Cardinals 34, Raiders 20
San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Denver Broncos (4-1) -6.5
The Niners played probably their best game of the year last week. Kaepernick had 380 total yards and 3 TDs with no INTs. The 49ers defense harassed Rams QB Austin Davis all night and forced him into quick throws and bad decisions. However, before their fans get too happy, it was against a team that they were supposed to do that too and there was zero pressure on Kaepernick as the Rams are a team with only one sack through 5 games. It will not be the same story this week as they will travel to Denver to, not only, face a good Broncos team, but maybe to be a witness to history.
The Denver Broncos seemed to be looking ahead to the 49ers game as they watch the Jets actually take the lead on them last week. The Jets also had the ball down 7 late in the 4th quarter, but you never really got the feeling they would lose. Peyton Manning is only two TDs from tying Brett Favre for the most NFL TD passes on a career. I think we all know that Broncos coach John Fox will do everything it take to get the win, and to get Manning that record. The 49ers have to run the ball and keep Manning off the field. They obviously have the ability to do it, but I just think they are running into a bear trap for Sunday Night Football.
Prediction: 49ers 23, Broncos 31
Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at St Louis Rams (1-4) +7
The Seahawks ran into exactly what I thought they were running into. A Cowboys team that not much people gave a chance too, but I thought had a legitimate shot to win the game. What you saw last week was not the typical overhyped Cowboys team. As long as they continue to run the ball and play the defense that they are playing, they are a legitimate Superbowl contender. That doesn’t diminish what the Seahawks are, but not it must be questioned that when another physical team smacks the Seahawks in the mouth, do they still have the same fight they had last year that made them smack teams back.
The Rams started off last week well. They took an early 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter and the game quickly had the look of an upset. However, when you can’t get to the quarterback and you can’t stop people from getting to your QB, you don’t really have much of a chance to be successful. Either Zac Stacy is hurt or he’s slowly being benched because he wasn’t in much at all in this game. He only played 26 of the 76 offensive snaps and Coach Fisher said there were no medical problems. He did miss practice today because of an ankle injury, but it just has the look of the Rams wanting to use Benny Cunningham, who played 39 snaps of the 76 offensive snaps.
I think this game could have a very similar game to last week for the Rams. The Seahawks are not a good road team and the Rams can get off to an early, quick start, if they run the ball and can actually get to the QB. However, I think eventually the Seahawks will wear the Rams down and pull away late. Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary has not been as good as last year, but their defensive line seems to be just as good if not better. Once again Austin Davis will probably be running for his life and all it takes is 1-2 turnovers and this could snowball on the Rams pretty fast.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Rams 17
Game Milestone Alert: Peyton Manning is 3 TDs away from breaking Brett Favre’s NFL career passing TDs record. Also, with 1 receiving TD, Larry Fitzgerald will have 89 for his career and move him into 12th all-time in receiving TDs.
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