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49ers Bye Week: Observing The Rest Of The NFC West

While the San Francisco 49ers and we as fans relax and enjoy a day of relatively stress-free football (fantasy issues aside), there remain some valuable games on the schedule that impact the NFC West. The 49ers hold a sizable lead on the rest of the division and have emerged as the team to beat in the NFC West. Nonetheless, I have no problem rooting on opponents of our NFC West brethren. Well, some of them at least.

The Seattle Seahawks are traveling to Cleveland to face the Browns at 10:00am PT. This is the most winnable game of the three NFC contests today. The Browns are 2-3 but are not exactly a threatening 2-3. The Seahawks are also 2-3, but when you start rolling out Clipboard Jesus, things get a little crazy!

But seriously, the Seahawks are coming off a huge road win over the New York Giants. This qualifies as a Maiocco-branded GPS game of sorts for the Seahawks. If they lose this game they lose all momentum from the Giants win. If they win this game, they become more of a potential threat in the West. The 49ers are in the driver's seat at this point, but until proven otherwise today, the Seahawks are a team that is hard to peg down.

The Arizona Cardinals host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1:05pm. The Cardinals are in the midst of a four game losing streak while the Steelers have won two straight and seem to be recovering from their early season slump. The Cardinals could win some divisional games, but dropping to 1-5 at this point would put them in a huge hole.

Considering what they gave up for Kevin Kolb, he has yet to show he is their franchise guy. He could use a strong performance against Pittsburgh to ease the tension of the Arizona masses. I'd be fairly stunned if the Cardinals pulled out the W, but a strong performance would give them at least a little bit of confidence moving forward.

The St. Louis Rams travel down to Texas to face the Dallas Cowboys and will be rolling with AJ Feeley at quarterback. Sam Bradford suffered an ankle sprain and is sitting this one out. The Cowboys are not the most threatening of teams (victory over the 49ers aside), but this is a game they should be able to roll up with ease. The only way St. Louis has a shot is if they can get a monster performance from Steven Jackson against a tough Cowboys defense.