Heading into week 13 of the 2012 NFL regular season the power rankings in the NFC west have shaped up to what they will ultimately look like in the end. While many predicted the San Francisco 49ers to take top billing in the NFC west. Most did not expect the Seattle Seahawks to make a push for the playoffs, as they currently are doing so. Many thought the Arizona Cardinals would have a much better team than they do at this point. And finally, most would have never guessed that the St. Louis Rams would have done so well this year. It has been a very entertaining year in the NFC west to say the least. And they still might have a couple combatants in the playoffs this year.
San Francisco 49ers: At 8-2-1 on the year and 2-0-1 in the division, the 49ers have made it very clear who is at the top of the food chain. They are coming off of two huge wins against a powerhouse Chicago Bears team and a resurgent New Orleans Saints team. They have arguably the best defense in the league, allowing just over 14 points per game, while only allowing 16 total touchdowns on the year. The 49ers defense is hungry to push this team to the playoffs and make up for missed opportunities. The 49ers did have the second best rushing attack in the league as of last week. But injuries and a quarterback change may alter the production down the stretch. Still, they should not lose their spot as number one unless something drastic happens.
The 49ers play their division rival St. Louis Rams in week 13, at St. Louis. There is definitely some bad blood between the two teams, as they battled to an overtime tie the last time they played. There is no doubt that the tie stung the 49ers as they are the big dog on the block. And with the 49ers staring at the playoffs in the face right now, it’s probably a safe bet that the 49ers do not let game slip away.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks record stands at 6-5 on the year and 0-3 in the division. A much better team that their record indicates, they have had a roller coaster season, as evident by their shocking loss to the Miami Dolphins last week. One never knows what Seahawks team will show up on game day. Just to look at the teams they have defeated this year (Green Bay, New England, Minnesota, Dallas) you would think that they are a shoe in for the playoffs. But then they go and lose to a handful of teams that they should obviously beat (Arizona, St. Louis, Miami, Detroit), and one thinks there’s no way they’re making the playoffs. To make matters worse, their star running back Marshawn Lynch is getting a little banged up as they move into the tail end of the season. And unfortunately, they will still have to ride atop his shoulders if they have any chance at a wild card spot.
They play the Chicago Bears this week, in what will be a defensive slugfest. This game is almost a must win for the Seahawks. They are playing for a spot in the playoffs right now, and they still have to play the 49ers again in the regular season. Of the five games left on their schedule, they play two of the better teams in the league. While they do not have to win out to make the playoffs, if they lose more than two, chances are they will be on the outside looking in.
St. Louis Rams: Despite their record, the Rams have played exceptionally well this year. They are 4-6-1 on the year and surprisingly 3-0-1 in the division. And it’s a tough division to have that high of a winning percentage. They are coming off a big win against the Arizona Cardinals last week, but unfortunately they dropped a game to the hapless New York Jets the week before. The loss to the Jets probably sealed their chances of making the playoffs this year. And although they have gotten back to the run game, which they should have been doing all year, their success lies in the health of wide receiver Danny Amendola. Amendola is the catalyst for this team, he opens up the entire offense for them, and it is evident that when he is hampered, the Rams are hampered.
And who do the Rams have this week, the 49ers, and Amendola is listed as questionable with a foot injury. So although the Rams want to make up for their tie against the 49ers in their last meeting, a game the Rams should have won, without Amendola their chances look bleak. They needed the win against the 49ers and Jets, as their remaining schedule is probably the toughest in the league. Besides the 49ers this week, they still have to play Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Seattle.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have now lost seven straight games in route to their 4-7 record. And they have been abysmal with their offense during that span. Currently the Cardinals rank 31st in the league in total yards per game, they are 31st in passer rating, they are 30th in rushing yards per game, and they are 31st in points per game. On top of that, they rank number one in sacks allowed on the year with 46, that’s over four sacks per game. They are starting the third string quarterback right now, but it’s a good probability that he ends up on the injured reserve list too. They did bring back one of their running backs for a game last week in the loss to the Rams. But as of today, he is listed as questionable again, so they may have to resort to the third string running back as well.
On the bright side, they are playing the Jets this week, and stand a decent chance of chalking up a win. However, that will probably be the only game they have a shot at winning the rest of the year. After that game, they still have to play the 49ers, Bears, Lions, and Seahawks. It’s fair to say that the Cardinals season has been a bust, and it’s not out of the question that they play back up players the rest of the way just to keep the starters from getting injured. Oh wait, they already are.
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