The week four NFL schedule gets going tomorrow and the NFC West finds itself with some rather intriguing matchups this week. While there are no divisional matchups, performances tomorrow could have season-long implications on the division. All four teams are underdogs with point spreads ranging from only a point or so in Arizona-NY Giants to the 49ers being ten point dogs to the Eagles.
At this point, Seattle has four division games remaining, Arizona and San Francisco have five, and St. Louis has six. At this point NFC West teams are undefeated at home in limited action. While it has only been a couple games, it is safe to say road division games could very well decide the NFC West in 2011. NFC West FTW!
Washington Redskins @ St. Louis Rams - 10:00am PT
Aside from our own 49ers contest in Philly, I would argue this is the most important game of the day for 49ers fans. Sure the Giants-Cardinals and Falcons-Seahawks games are both important in the grand scheme of things, but given the Rams slow start, they are fast approaching must-win territory. A loss to the Redskins and the Rams are 0-4 with the Packers, Cowboys and Saints on the horizon. Throw in @ Arizona and @ Cleveland and they could realistically be looking at 0-9. Conceivably an 0-7 start could be overcome with a 6-0 divisional performance, but I just don't know.
I won't say they can't come back from 0-7, but it would be awfully difficult. So I see that making this game all the more significant. The Redskins are 2-1 and came a stones throw from being 3-0 and yet they have plenty of question marks still. The Rams should have Steven Jackson back in full, which definitely benefits them. I think the Rams pull out the win, but who knows with an NFC West team.
New York Giants @ Arizona Cardinals - 1:05pm PT
The Cardinals blew a significant opportunity to notch a key divisional road win against a Seahawks squad that I refuse to acknowledge is even particularly decent. I know we can roll out the any given Sunday mantra, but the Seahawks just aren't good. And so the Cardinals now face a Giants team coming off a huge road win against the Eagles. This qualifies in my mind as a winnable game for the Cardinals, but it's a tough one. I think they spring the upset, but I wouldn't be at all shocked to see the Giants take them behind the wood shed.
Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks - 1:05pm PT
I refuse to pick the Seahawks to beat anybody. I know they'll likely win a few more games this year, but they just are not a very good football team this year. When the 49ers head up to Seattle, it will be tough dealing with the "12th Man" but I still think they are "better enough" to take out the Seahawks on the road. Of course, given that line of thinking, feel free to take the Seahawks to stun the Falcons.
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles - 10:00am PT
Our 49ers travel to Philadelphia with the tall order of knocking off the "Dream Team." I don't buy into the Dream Team moniker, but that doesn't mean this isn't a team with a ton of potential. They've struggled a bit out of the gates but they are incredibly dangerous with big play options on both offense and defense. The 49ers can win this game, but they're going to have to bring their A-game to make it happen. A road win over Philly would be absolutely monstrous for their playoff hopes. However, a strong showing even in defeat is not the end of the world. Just please no ugly blowout. I'm pleading for this.
How do you see the NFC West performing on Sunday?