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NFC West roundup: Seahawks have easiest path to division title

Seattle has a soft schedule down the stretch and should be able to hang on to the top spot.

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NFC West continues to be one of the best divisions in the NFL. The NFC West teams have combined for 26 wins this season, tied with the AFC North for the most in the league.

The San Francisco 49ers stayed in the playoff hunt with a massive 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12, keeping all four NFC West teams in the postseason picture. The Niners are 5-6 and likely need to win at least four out of their final five games if they want to play in January.

San Francisco is getting healthy at the right time as it prepares for a late-season charge. The 49ers are within striking distance of two of their division rivals and could be playing a must-win game in Week 16 when they take on the Arizona Cardinals.

Here is how the division looks going into Week 13:

Seattle Seahawks (8-3) defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 23-16

Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles’ offense made the worst ranked defense in the NFL look like the ‘85 Chicago Bears. Seattle sacked Wentz six times and held Philadelphia to just 250 yards, 58 of which came on the meaningless final drive. The Seahawks’ defense will continue to look like world-beaters over the next few weeks with a Charmin-soft schedule.

Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf are quickly becoming the best QB/WR duo in the league. The pair connected 10 times for 177 yards against the Eagles and made cornerback Darius Slay look like a practice squad player. Seattle’s offensive line struggles against stout defensive lines that can get pressure when rushing four. Philadelphia’s line did an excellent job of containing the Seahawks overall, and if the Eagles’ offense could have mustered any momentum, they would have won the game.

Seattle will go as far as Wilson, Metcalf and the offense takes it. The division is theirs for the taking. Football Outsiders gives the Seahawks a 59.1% to win the NFC West and a 97.5% shot to make the playoffs. Look at their upcoming schedule, and it’s easy to understand why.

Next three games: vs. New York Giants, vs. New York Jets, @ Washington Football Team

Los Angeles Rams (7-4) lost 23-20 to the 49ers.

The Rams are still in a pretty good position to get into the postseason. FO gives L.A. a 62.5% to get a wild card spot and a 33.2% chance to win the division. The problem with the Rams is inconsistency on the offensive end.

Quarterback Jared Goff looked awful against San Francisco, just six days after looking like an All-Pro in the Rams’ win over the Tampa Buccaneers. Head coach Sean McVay has struggled to make adjustments in all of L.A.’s losses this season. The defense is among the best in the league, ranking in the top five in passing yards, rushing yards, points against and sacks per game.

The Rams have three divisional matchups left on their schedule but could still make things interesting in the division going into their Week 16 game against the Seahawks. If L.A. can win its next four games, it will be in the driver’s seat going into the finale.

Next three games: @ Cardinals, vs. New England Patriots, vs. New York Jets

Arizona Cardinals lost 20-17 to the Patriots

The Cardinals were the darlings of the NFL through eight weeks but have crashed back down to earth after losing three of their last four. Arizona held New England to just 179 total yards and still lost.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald and two others missed the game after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, giving quarterback Kyler Murray one less weapon to work with. Murray had his worst game of the season against the Pats, finishing with 201 total yards from scrimmage. All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins has also been slipping recently, with 10 receptions for 106 yards and no touchdowns over the last two games.

The Cardinals’ defense blitzes 38.4% of the time, fourth-highest in the league, and has 28 total sacks. Arizona has done well getting pressure despite being without Chandler Jones.

Football Outsiders gives the Cardinals a 58.8% of making the postseason. Arizona has two matchups against L.A. on its schedule but can also take advantage of back-to-back games against NFC East teams.

Next three games: vs. Rams, @ Giants, vs. Eagles