The NFL wraps up Week 8 Monday evening with Dallas hosting Washington, but in the meantime, most of the action pertinent to the San Francisco 49ers went down Sunday afternoon and into the evening. The 49ers had the week off, and were looking for some help around the league. They got a little bit of help, but the bigger matchups did not quite go in their favor. The 49ers have nine game left on their schedule, so plenty can and will change over the next two months, but here is a look at how things went on Sunday.
The Cardinals are for real
I went into this game thinking the Eagles would get the win as Arizona began its eventual descent to the rest of the NFC West pack. There is still a lot of football left to be played, but defeating to Eagles is another solid notch in their belt. This ended up being a very entertaining game, with numerous lead changes, and a red zone stand by Arizona to get the victory.
I've poo-poo'd the Cardinals schedule thus far, but wins over the Eagles and 49ers are impressive. They begin a rough stretch of road games, that includes games at Dallas and at Seattle, as well as a home game against the Lions. This coming weekend against Dallas will tell us even more about this team
The Seahawks get a much-needed win
Seattle is going through the locker room problems nonsense, and considering they were in the midst of a 2-game losing streak, it's safe to say a win over Carolina is huge. The Panthers are a talented by far from great team, and this was an ugly game, but a road win against a division leader is huge. The Seahawks climb to 4-3, and are tied with the 49ers. These two teams have a pair of games, and plenty of other action, but they will likely be fairly close together in the standings when Week 17 arrives.
The Saints are hanging around
New Orleans remains an abysmal road team, but they got a much-needed home win over the Green Bay Packers. They took control in the third quarter, and rolled to a 44-23 victory. The win improves them to 3-4, and they are tied with the 3-4-1 Panthers atop the NFC South. The Panthers have a mathematical edge in the standings, but New Orleans has a game in hand to take the division lead.
The Packers drop to 5-3, and a game back of the Detroit Lions. The Packers are off this week, so a 49ers win over the Rams would move San Francisco into a tie with Green Bay. It's way too early to make much of tiebreaker scenarios, but feel free to bookmark this page as we move into the second half of the season.
The biggest NFC losses in terms of playoff implications belongs to the Bears. They went into New England at 3-4 with a chance to get a huge road win and climb back into the heart of the playoff mix. They do have a chance with a big win streak, but the 3-5 Bears are simply not looking good with four losses in the last five weeks. They now have to travel to Green Bay, where things could get worse. They get the Vikings and Bucs at home after that, but 3-6 would put them in a big hole with games remaining at Detroit and Minnesota, and at home against Dallas and New Orleans. They are in trouble
AFC looking better and better
The NFC entered the season viewed by most as the better conference. However, midway through the season, the AFC is looking quite strong, whether looking at records or gambling odds. Denver continues to roll along, coming off a big TNF home win over the Chargers. The Patriots have rebounded impressively from that 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. New England has won four straight since that loss, with an average margin of victory of 17. The Steelers have rebounded from some poor performances, and are now in a tie with the wild card teams.
The top 11 teams in the AFC are above .500, with Houston at .500. The drop-off for the final four teams is obvious, but even still, that's some quality work right now. And they even have a chance at having four very respectable division winners, while the NFC is stuck with the NFC South. Good times!
The Dallas Cowboys host Washington in a game that could actually be closer than people might think. The Cowboys have dominated the win/loss record, going 15-3 against the spread in the last 18 games in Dallas. However, in the last seven, Washington is 6-1 against the spread. It could end up meaning nothing given how well this Cowboys team is playing, but it is an interesting trend.
Heading into Monday Night Football, here is how the NFC shakes up through Week 8:
1. Arizona Cardinals (6-1) - conference record tiebreaker over Dallas
2. Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
3. Detroit Lions (6-2)
4. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1)
5. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2)
6. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Just outside, looking in
7. San Francisco 49ers (4-3) - division record tiebreaker over Seattle
8. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
9. New Orleans Saints (3-4)
10. New York Giants (3-4)
Whole lot of work to do
11. Chicago Bears (3-5)
12. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
13. St. Louis Rams (2-5)
14. Washington (2-5)
15. Atlanta (2-6)
16. Tampa Bay (1-6)
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