This is going to be a painful post, but not as painful as watching every NFC West game would have been. The division put up 43 points yesterday, which is an average of just under 11 points per team. The Seahawks and 49ers led the division with 13 points each (and two wins). Ugh. The good news? The division was consistent. It went 1-1 outside of the division and 1-1 inside of it. Yep, that's my silver lining.
To be fair, the Rams have had quite a tough schedule so far this year. Their two home games this season have been against the Eagles and the Ravens and had to play against the Giants on the road. The 49ers were able to win a game they were supposed to win on the road, so that's good. But the Cardinals not being able to beat the Seahawks, while awesome for our 49ers, is a major indictment to their team.
Let's take a closer look at the 49ers' divisional opponents after the jump.
Their defense had been porous the first two weeks of the season, especially against the pass, but they held the Seahawks to 13 points on Sunday. Not that that is hard, considering how awful the Seahawks' offense has been. Still, they did their job, as they held Tarvaris Jackson to under 200 yards passing and sacked him four times. Against the run though, they were not as effective. The Seahawks rushed for 122 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt.
Offensively, it was not a good performance by Kevin Kolb. He threw two interceptions, with the last one being the most costly. The Cardinals were at Seattle's 36 yard-line with under two minutes left in the game when safety Kam Chancellor stepped in front of Kolb's pass intended for Todd Heap. Had they gained no yardage they still would have had a shot to kick a 53-yard field goal to tie the game. If they had David Akers, it would have been a done deal.
Next week they play the New York Giants at home. The Giants are coming off of a big win against the Eagles, so we will see how the Cardinals respond. Their three games following that are against the Vikings on the road, the Steelers at home and the Ravens on the road. They could easily lose all three of those games.
Tarvaris Jackson got his former Viking teammate Sidney Rice back, and it turned out to be just enough. Jackson found Rice eight times for 109 yards and targeted him 10 times. The second most targeted receiver was Doug Baldwin with four, so it's pretty clear who Jackson's favorite target is. The Seahawks did a pretty good job in the run game, as they gained 122 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt. Jackson showed his mobility in the third quarter on an 11-yard touchdown run, which ended up being the game-winning score.
The defense came up big to end both halves and ended two potential scoring drives with interceptions. Kam Chancellor made the game-clinching interception and lead the secondary with two passes defended and an interception. Seattle's front seven had a solid performance; sacking Kolb three times and holding the Cardinals to 3.2 yards per rush attempt.
Sidney Rice gives Seattle a new go-to receiver, which they have desperately needed. Next week the Seahawks will face a tough opponent at home in the Falcons, who I'd imagine do not want to start the season 1-3. They then travel to face the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns. Like the Cardinals, they do not have any games they can pencil in a "W" on (Do any NFC West teams have that luxury?).
The good news for the Rams was getting Steven Jackson back. Unfortunately, all warm fuzzy feelings stopped quickly. The Rams got absolutely Torrey Smith'd in the first quarter. He burned their secondary for touchdowns of 74, 41 and 18 yards in a span of 13 minutes. Not many teams are going to come back against the Ravens once they get a lead like that.
Sam Bradford had a rough day. He completed just half of his passes for 166 yards and averaged just 5.2 yards per pas attempt. It's pretty clear that the Rams still do not have a go-to receiver on their team. Until they get one, Bradford will be limited as a passer. The Rams defense had a horrible day, allowing 389 yards passing and 168 yards rushing (6.5 yards per attempt).
0-3 is not the start the Rams envisioned going into this season. The combination of the lockout, a new offensive system and a tough schedule to start the season have not helped. They faced a tough opponent in the Ravens and were clearly outclassed. It's not going to get any easier either. Next week they play the Redskins at home, which is a winnable game, but they play the Packers and Cowboys on the road the following weeks. After that? The New Orleans Saints. This team could start off 1-6...or worse.
WEEK FOUR SCHEDULE
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants
Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
St. Louis Rams vs. Washington Redskins