The San Francisco 49ers are very clearly bringing up the rear in the NFC West, but who will emerge at the top of the division is not entirely clear. I think the Seattle Seahawks end up walking away with the division title once again, but it is looking like a two-team race, with the possibility of a third team hanging around.
This past weekend saw the Seattle Seahawks go into Los Angeles and beat the Rams 16-10. The Rams entered the weekend atop the NFC West, but now find themselves tied with Seattle, and losing a big game in a potential tiebreaker scenario.
At the same time, the Arizona Cardinals were thumped 34-7 by the Philadelphia Eagles. They dropped to 2-3, leaving them a game back in the NFC West. Seattle has a 2-0 divisional record, the Rams are 1-1, and the Cardinals are 1-0 with their win over the 49ers.
Seattle and Los Angeles are the two best teams in the division, but could Arizona hang around? The Cardinals traded a conditional draft pick for Adrian Peterson to shore up a run game that has been a mess since David Johnson got injured. Arizona might get Johnson back in November or December, but a lot of that will depend on how they play in the coming weeks.
Can Arizona hang around long enough to potentially make a run in the NFC West? Right now, Football Outsiders’ latest playoff odds give Seattle a 56.2 percent chance of winning the division, the Rams a 40.1 percent chance, and the Cardinals a 3.6 percent chance. In case you’re wondering, the 49ers have a 0.1 percent chance.
The 49ers will be playing spoiler the rest of the way, starting in Week 9. They host the Arizona Cardinals on November 5, and given the trouble they gave them in the desert, a win is not entirely out of the question. They’ll probably end up losing by three again, but I would imagine we see a competitive affair.
The 49ers host Seattle in Week 12, and most importantly, San Francisco will be coming out of their bye week. We don’t know what the injury report will look like at that point, but coming off a bye will certainly help. Seattle is starting to work its way into more of a groove heading into their own bye week. Coming out of the bye, they travel to face the New York Giants, host Houston and Washington, and then travel to face Arizona. They could make a serious move in that four week stretch.
The 49ers close out their season on the road facing the Los Angeles Rams. It’s impossible to tell what will be happening at that point, but it would be pretty fun to see the 49ers with a chance to cost the Rams the division or a wild card berth in the final week.