The San Francisco 49ers were guaranteed to finish in last place of the NFC West for the fourth time in six seasons, but they had a chance to ruin the Cardinals' chances of making the playoffs.
As for the Rams and the Seahawks, the winner would take control of the division in Week 16, while the loser would have a much more difficult path in the playoffs. Here’s how the NFC West looks heading into the final week of the season.
Seahawks 11-4 beat Rams 9-6
For a while now, I’ve felt like the Rams are the best team in the NFC. It’s easy to watch them face the 49ers and see Los Angeles’s flaws, but against everyone else, the Rams look like a top team. For much of the Seahawks game, that remained unchanged.
Jared Goff was brutal. He was in the negatives for EPA/play and completion percentage over expectation, and also had a quarterback rating of 36.7. For reference, Dwayne Haskins QBR was 36.4 heading into Sunday, and Washington released Haskins on Monday morning. Goff missed easy throw after easy throw and would make boneheaded decisions like sliding a yard short of the first down marker.
It wasn’t as if the Seahawks were impressive. Jalen Ramsey is the only person I’ve seen lockdown DK Metcalf, and Russell Wilson was held under 200 yards. Seattle didn’t make mistakes, and that’s why they won.
Final game: @ 49ers
6-9 49ers beat 8-7 Cardinals
Oh, Kliff. The Cardinals have had the same issues all season. They either run plays where Kyler Murray throws it too quickly because the team doesn’t trust their offensive line. Or they go to the other extreme and it’s a full-out air raid with deep routes where Murray has to scramble around and make something happen.
That worked against an Eagles secondary that’s not very good. San Francisco didn’t allow Kingsbury and the Cardinals to do much of anything on offense. The Cardinals were successful in only 36% of their plays and achieved a first down 25% of the time on 81 plays. That’s the opposite of efficient. For reference, the 49ers had a 51% success rate and gained a first down on 40% of their plays.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals had no answer for the Niners running game, which opened up the play-action passing game. Kyle Shanahan opened up the play-calling in the second half and Arizona couldn’t get stops.
If you didn’t know any better, with the way each team played, you’d think the road team was playing for a playoff birth and the home team was eliminated.
The Seahawks can clinch the top seed in the NFC with a win over the 49ers, and a Packers and Saints loss.
The Rams can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Cardinals in Week 17 or a loss by the Bears, who are on the road in Green Bay. If the Rams lose and the Bears win, the fighting Goff’s are eliminated.
The Cardinals need to beat the Rams to clinch a playoff birth. If they win, they’re in. If the Cardinals tie and the Bears lose, Arizona is in.