After week nine of the 2012 NFL regular season, the power rankings in the NFC west have not changed, but there is an argument for movement in the next couple of weeks. By no means do the 49ers have the division wrapped up, and the Seahawks are playing at a very high level right now. In the bottom half, the Cardinals seem destined to reach the bottom of the rankings, and the Rams are once again looking to find their footing in the division.
San Francisco 49ers: Arguably they are one of the best teams in the entire league at this point, and there is no reason to not have them as the top dog in the NFC west again. At 6-2 on the year, they seem to be just now finding their rhythm. They are coming off a week nine bye, and will most likely be poised to make the final push into the playoffs. Their bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, halfway through the season, the perfect time to reflect and prepare for the coming weeks. With their health in tact, and their recommitment to the running game, they will be a tough opponent in the next couple of weeks. Not to say they don’t have a rough road ahead. This week they play one of their divisions rivals in the St. Louis Rams. The NFC west divisional games are always a heated affair, and there is an outside chance that the Rams scratch and claw their way to an upset.
Seattle Seahawks: This team is playing very good football right now, and is coming off a huge win against a very good Minnesota Vikings team 30-20. The same Vikings team that beat the 49ers earlier this year. With a solid running game and a ferocious defense, they have the potential to make a decent run at the playoffs. They utilize an old school football tactic, run the ball hard and make tackles, that no team in the NFL looks forward to facing. Their quarterback seems to be growing in confidence with every game, and he just might be a viable threat if they do make the playoffs. This week the Seahawks face off against the New York Jets, a game that they should win in convincing fashion. Week 11 is their bye week, and that should prepare them for the final push into the playoffs. After their bye, they have a handful of divisional games and few games against sub par opponents. It would not be out of the question to see the Seahawks only lose one or two more games this year, and backdoor their way into the playoffs. There is no doubt that the Seahawks are making it very difficult on the 49ers to stay a step ahead of them.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have now lost their last five games in a row, and now boast a 4-5 record. This team is in complete turmoil right now, and it is not out of the realm of possibilities to see them lose the remainder of their games. The problems associated with their offensive line is very well known, by opposing teams, by the sports media, and fans alike. As of right now, there is no positive outlook, especially when every single opposing team will focus in on and exploit their one glaring weakness. By no means are the Cardinals packing it in and giving up each and every week, but it does stand to reason that they are not playing with a great deal of confidence right now. The Cardinals are on a bye week in week ten, so that should do them some good in getting players healthy. Unfortunately, they play the undefeated Atlanta Falcons upon their return to the field.
St. Louis Rams: Even though the Rams are playing below their potential as a team, they still have the talent to make a semi decent run at the top two spots in the division. As of right now, they are not the weakest in the division, but their record is keeping them on the bottom. At only 3-5 on the year, they are struggling to find their footing right now. They might be getting their superstar wide receiver back this week, which should alleviate some of the pressure on the rest of the team. And their number one running back, who has been trade talk media fodder all year, no longer has his destination in question, so that might lift the spirits as well. This week the Rams play the heavily favored 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Now even though, the Rams are expected to lose this game, there is a chance that they overthrow the 49ers. The Rams will no doubt come into the game with bad intentions, and could just have enough rivalry spirit to pull out a victory.
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