Two weeks ago I threw out some possible conclusions we could make about the NFC West after one week of football. I wouldn't say things have necessarily changed all that much as it is still hard to draw too many conclusions about the division. Well the Rams still suck, but that's rather obvious.
The Cardinals find themselves at 2-1 heading into the Meadowlands as the first NFC West team to face the Brett Favre-led Jets. The Cardinals of the recent past were known for their offensive fireworks and poor defensive efforts. To date though, the Cardinals have put together solid defensive efforts, the loss to Washington notwithstanding. The Redskins are a solid squad and I certainly would not qualify that as a "bad loss," even if I was a Cardinals fan.
The Cardinals face an upcoming 3-game stretch before their bye that will definitely test them to the limits. They visit the Jets and then host the resurgent Buffalo Bills and a very Dallas Cowboys squad coming off their first ever win at Lambeau Field. The next three weeks will tell us a lot about the Cardinals AND the 49ers as the 49ers have an equally tough stretch at New Orleans and then hosting New England and Philadelphia. The Seahawks are only getting healthier so this could be their chance to climb further into the divisional race.
The Seattle Seahawks are a damn good football team. That's the perfect, rational description of their talent, skill and depth. Seattle is a Super Bowl contender. They took the worst part of their offense, built it back from the ground up, substituted the worst football player in the NFL with a good, complete and underappreciated running back in Julius Jones, resigned vital parts of their defense and had a hell of a draft. Somehow losing two games caused the miasma of ESPN-like reactionary thinking, panic and outright stupidity to crawl into this team, onto this site and into my brain.
But this win was ejaculatory. The frustration, doubts and stupidity are out of my brain. And if I have to purify this site with flames, I will to get back a place I can talk Hawks with intelligent fans.
On the one hand, the Rams might be on their way to an epically bad season. As has been mentioned with the 49ers, beating a crappy team doesn't make you a good team (shlecko ©). However, I also think Seattle reached rock bottom and if they get completely healthy, they are going to be a good team this season. I think Arizona and San Francisco improved themselves enough to challenge Seattle, but they're certainly going to be dangerous the rest of the way.
St. Louis Rams
It's certainly easy to feel bad for a team struggling the way the Rams are struggling. At the same time, when the Rams were ruling the division I don't think their fans were feeling bad for everybody else. Quality play seems to come in cycles and right now the Rams are definitely in a downturn. They've even benched Marc Bulger for the ageless one Trent Green. I'd imagine the odds of Scott Linehan lasting the entire season are dropping rather precipitously.
I think it's safe to say that if the 49ers don't sweep the Rams, something is clearly wrong. The Rams are bad and their fans are moving way past wearing brown paper bags to games. Much could change between now and their first matchup in mid-November, but I'm not really holding my breath.
For now, the NFC West is a 3-team race. Divisional wins will be huge for tiebreaker purposes. Given the fact that each team has to face the AFC East and NFC East, wins will be at a premium and as previously mentioned 9-7 or possibly even 8-8 could do the trick. All three teams face a tough stretch of games in the next three weeks. Aside from the games mentioned above, following a Week 4 bye, the Seahawks play at the Giants, host the Packers and visit the Buccaneers, heading into a Week 8 showdown at Candlestick. Suffice to say, the next month is huge.