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NFC West Report Week 5: Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals got a much needed win, with help from Blaine Gabbert.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are alive at 2-3 after a win, but still have a lot of ground to cover to catch up in the NFC West. The former division leading Los Angeles Rams lost this week, and the Seattle Seahawks took over first place during their bye week.

NFC West standings through 5 weeks.

Week 5 result: 33-21 win over the San Francisco 49ers (1-4)

The big difference in this game was turnovers. The Cardinals defense and special teams forced 3 that set their offense up less than 25 yards from the end zone. Those three possessions resulted in 17 points. The 49ers forced none, and lost by 12 points. This may be a biased perspective, but this game felt more about what the 49ers did wrong than what the Cardinals did right. The Cardinals defense was credited with seven sacks, however some were the result of Blaine Gabbert running out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage. Gabbert was also sacked in the end zone for a safety.

One thing the Cardinals did very well was run the ball. David Johnson put up the best rushing performance in the NFL this season, rolling for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson won the NFC Player of the Week for his performance. The Cardinals needed that level contribution from their run game, as backup quarterback Drew Stanton played poorly in place of Carson Palmer. Stanton completed less than 40 percent of his passes, for only 124 yards.

Next up: Home vs the New York Jets (1-4) on Monday Night

The Jets season is slipping away due to a growing mountain of Ryan Fitzpatrick turnovers. Fitzpatrick has thrown 10 interceptions to only five touchdowns this season, and is on pace for the highest INT total in the salary cap era. Fitzpatrick is also tied for the highest number of fumbles in the NFL this season. Another disastrous performance, in Prime Time, in front of a national audience might have the Cardinals forcing a starting QB to the bench in back-to-back weeks.

Overall the Jets are a very capable team being held back by an under-performing QB. They should pose a good challenge for a Cardinals team that desperately needs to string wins together after a poor start. The Jets defense boasts the best 3-4 D-Line in the NFL, and have only allowed 68 rush yards per game. They also rank in the Top 10 in sacks.

Biggest headlines:

Carson Palmer has been cleared from concussion protocol, and should play Monday night. Between Palmer's concussion, Russell Wilson suffering ankle and MCL sprains, Blaine Gabbert being benched, and Case Keenum playing like Case Keenum, it's been a rough several weeks for starting QB's in the NFC West.

Guard Evan Mathis may be considering retirement. Mathis was placed on Injured Reserve after sustaining foot and ankle injuries against the 49ers.