As expected, the vision of the power rankings in the NFC west got even blurrier in week ten. As it stands at this point in the season, there is no clear-cut leader of the group. And there is only a calculated guess as to who will finish last. Unfortunately, the tone and the uncertainty of the power rankings in the NFC west will probably continue right up to the last regular season game too. Especially since each team has three more rough divisional games left to play.
San Francisco 49ers: Atop the power rankings once again heading into week 11, but it is not certain that they stay there. After a week ten tie to their division rival St. Louis Rams, they stood a chance at falling to the number two spot. But their overall record of 6-2-1 keeps them at the head of the field. The 49ers have a host of issues that might sink them down the ladder a bit, and will need to really focus to stay in front.
First off, the tie against the Rams definitely hurt their standing, on paper they should have easily beat them. A credit to the Rams playing an excellent game, and opening up room for the Seattle Seahawks to slide into first. Second, the health of the 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is a potential pitfall. If Smith does not return, then the outlook on the 49ers season gets very bleak. Even with their dedication to the running game. Smith has been the poster boy for efficiency, and they will definitely feel his loss at the helm. Lastly, the 49ers do not have the easiest schedule moving forward. There is no doubt that they have the talent to win out, but playing Chicago, New England, a resurgent New Orleans team, and three more divisional games does not help their chances.
Seattle Seahawks: Second again, but not by far, if the 49ers would have lost the game against the Rams, there is a good chance that the Seahawks would be talked about as the favorite in the NFC west. The Seahawks are playing with unbridled tenacity right now. And are looking to make a name for themselves in playoff picture talks. They have a record of 6-4 at the moment, and seem poised to make a strong run down the stretch. Fortunately for Seahawks fans, the outlook is very high as they charge toward the playoffs.
The Seahawks have the benefit of the 49ers having a brutal road to finish out the season. They are playing with a level of confidence that is probably higher than any team in the league. Especially after demoralizing the New York Jets in week ten 28-7. They have a bye this week, a perfect time in the season to tend to any nagging injuries and prepare for a concerted push into the playoffs. And their upcoming schedule is not all that difficult. There is a good chance that they end up winning their remaining games. The only games left that look dangerous for Seahawks fans are a tough rematch against the 49ers, a game against a Bears team that may have quarterback injury issues, and a heated game against the Rams. Otherwise, there is no reason that the Seahawks shouldn’t have a playoff birth locked up.
St. Louis Rams: Moving up from the NFC west cellar, the Rams have shown a great deal of tenacity in making a run at the top. They seem to have a lot of things working in their favor right now. And if they play their cards right, they stand an outside chance of making the playoffs. The tie last week against the division leading 49ers gave the Rams a huge confidence boost, and they could be scary down the stretch. They just have to stick with the formula that is successful for them. They earn the edge in the power rankings over the Cardinals for a number of reasons, even if their record is only 3-5-1.
As already stated, they stood toe to toe with the 49ers, and came away with a draw. A big feather in the cap for the perennial underdog, and there was a decent chance for the Rams to win it in the end. Nobody except for Rams and 49ers fans knew that game was gonna be that close. Also getting back to his hard running style and big game play was Steven Jackson. He is an offensive monster, and the Rams need to be leaning on him if they intend to remain successful. Jackson and company also welcomed back wide receiver Danny Amendola from injury. He is vital to the offensive prowess, with his knack for getting open and his ability to turn short yardage into long runs. The only thing holding back the Rams is their remaining schedule. They will have some tough games against the 49ers, the Vikings, the Bears, and the surprising Buccaneers.
Arizona Cardinals: The only thing the Cardinals have going for them right now is that they are coming off a bye in week ten. Otherwise, the outlook is just as bleak as in the five previous power rankings. They can only hope that the bye afforded them the chance to make the necessary changes and heal any injuries that may have been lingering. If not, the outlook does not look good.
They still, as of week nine, had not found an answer to their offensive line woes. They still have to start a running back that entered the season third in the depth chart. And they still don’t know which of their quarterbacks will end up finishing games for them. The only bright side to their team is their stand out wide receiver. Even their once heralded defense is giving up points that are consecutively rising with each passing loss. Heading into week 11 they are 4-5 and have only one game left on the schedule in which they are statistically the favorite. But even that game against the Jets is really just a flip of the coin as to who will come out victorious. The Cardinals still have to play the 49ers, Falcons, Seahawks, Lions, Bears, and Rams.
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