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NFC West roundup heading into Week 6: The 49ers have some ground to make up

The Niners shouldn’t be in last place after this weekend

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Week 5 saw the Cardinals come out on top at home against the 49ers and the Rams sneak out a victory against the Seahawks. San Francisco San Francisco is now 0-2 in the division and at home and likely can’t afford more than one more divisional loss if they want to win the NFC West.

Here’s a look at the Week 6 schedule for each team.

Cardinals (5-0) @ Browns (3-2)

Cleveland opened the week as 2.5-point favorites and is now up to a 3.5-point favorite after Chandler Jones and Rodney Hudson, two of their four best players on the roster, have been ruled out.

The Browns should be able to take advantage of a porous Cardinals run defense while doing much of the same things the 49ers did defensively last week. In addition, Cleveland will be aggressive on fourth downs, not unlike the Niners last week. I have a difficult time imagining the Browns going 0-for on fourth down, which is why I’d pick the Browns to win here.

Rams (4-1) @ Giants (1-4)

The Rams will win this game. They’re 10-point favorites on the road. The Giants have been a competitive team, but they can only keep it close for so long with the lack of talent on that roster. New York’s -36 point differential is third-worst in the NFC.

The Rams’ next four games are the Giants, Lions, Texans, and Titans before traveling to Santa Clara. The 49ers might be facing a red-hot Rams squad a month from now in primetime.

Seahawks (2-3) @ Steelers (2-3)

Geno Smith is the best quarterback in this game, which is saying something. However, the Steelers’ offense looks anemic as Big Ben struggles to push the ball down the field. He did it a couple of times last week, which was a surprise. Hopefully, Dionte Johnson and Chase Claypool and take advantage of a Seahawks secondary that hasn’t played well this season.

Pittsburgh comes into this game as a 5.5-point favorite. The Steelers are once against near the top of the league in pressure percentage, where they rank seventh. What helps is they can get home with four as the Steelers blitz at the sixth-lowest rate.

Geno will be fine, but Pittsburgh’s front should make the difference in this game. The 49ers shouldn’t be in last place after this weekend.

49ers: Bye week

What are the 49ers going to look like out of their bye week? Is it going to be Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance under center? In Kyle Shanahan’s head, he’s seen Garoppolo play poorly in the last two first halves he’s played in. But he also saw Jimmy score at will against the Packers in the second half.

For DeMeco Ryans, having K’Waun Williams back in the lineup will help. A week off their feet should mean we see a fresh defensive line go up against Carson Wentz. I wonder if we’ll see Talanoa Hufanga worked into more sub-packages. Outside of that, there aren’t many changes to make.

Brandon Aiyuk has been on the field. That’s not the problem. The issue has been getting him the ball. There are times when Aiyuk’s route depth is off, or he’ll have a route where he can’t shake free from the defender. Then there are times when he creates plenty of separation but isn’t targeted, so there’s an illusion that he never gets open.

Someone has to step up. Everyone has to perform better. It shouldn’t be on the defense every game. During the bye week for San Francisco, the focal point should be figuring out how to play complementary football.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.