SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Doug Baldwin #15 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a diving catch during their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The NFC West had a much better performance this week. The Rams not playing helped that, but the Seahawks had an impressive comeback win over the New York Giants on the road. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are reaching pathetic levels.
Even though the 49ers technically didn't gain any ground in regards to their first place lead, it feels like they have. The Seahawks stayed within two games, but the Cardinals are now three back and the Rams didn't play, but I guess you could say the 49ers gained a half game with their win. I still don't see the Seahawks as the major threat, and the Cardinals and Rams aren't looking like threats either.
Let's take a closer look at the division after the jump.Arizona Cardinals
The Vikings jumped on the Cardinals early, taking a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. The pass defense has been pathetic, but they only gave up 169 yards passing and Donovan McNabb completed under 50 percent of his passes. Of course, it's not really saying much considering the way McNabb has played this season. It's also worth noting the Viking didn't have to pass much in this game after the first quarter and despite his low completion percentage, McNabb averaged over eight yards per pass attempt.
The run defense, however, was not good. They gave up 172 yards and a 4.6 yards per carry average to the Vikings. Adrian Peterson scored three touchdowns in the first quarter to put the game away early.
Kevin Kolb is in a slump. I think I can officially say that now. He accounted for three turnovers on Sunday (Two interceptions, one fumble). He completed only 21 of his 42 pass attempts and averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt. Is anyone else happy the 49ers didn't trade a 1st round pick for this guy?
The Cardinals have a bye next week and don't have a winnable game until week 9. In other words, they are playing the Rams. Before that, they have to the Steelers in Arizona and then travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. Ouch. Looks like it's going to be a 1-6 start for the Cardinals.
I'll give the Seahawks credit, they are the only team in the division besides the 49ers that has improved since the start of the season. They had a pretty impressive road win over the Giants on Sunday. The victory did come at a price. Tarvaris Jackson has what the team called a "high-grade pectoral sprain." The Seahawks do have a bye next week, so Jackson will have a week to recover.
After struggling at first, Charlie Whitehurst finished strong with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. Baldwin has been one of the most impressive undrafted rookies so far this season. He had a monster game with 8 receptions for 136 yards. This was definitely the teams most impressive offensive outing. Both their passing and running game was effective. Marshawn Lynch gained 98 yards on just 12 carries and they had 279 total passing yards.
The defense gave up a lot of passing yards to Eli Manning, 420 in total, but they also forced three interceptions. Turnovers ended up being the difference, as the Giants had five to the Seahawks three. The run defense did a great job, allowing just 69 yards and 2.8 yards per carry.
Following their bye, the Seahawks play in Cleveland against the Browns and at home against the Bengals. Both games are winnable, though the Bengals have a 3-2 record. It gets tougher after that, with games against the Cowboys and Ravens.
They had a bye this week, but that didn't stop them from losing two players for the season due to injury. Two starters, cornerback Bradley Fletcher and wide receiver Danny Amendola, were placed on the IR. It gets worse. They play in Green Bay next week and their cornerbacks have been devastated by injury. I think it's safe to say that Aaron Rodgers will be picking them apart. After that, they play the Cowboys in Dallas and the Saints at home. I'm standing by my 0-7 prediction from last week.