Heading into the final game of the 2012 NFL regular season, the power rankings in the NFC west division has shifted the balance dramatically among the top two teams. While the bottom two teams still stay in the position that they have for most of the season. But even with it being the final game of the regular season, there is still a story to be told here. Each team in the division plays a rival in the very same division, and while the outcomes will not change the immediate future of the Rams or Cardinals, it could have a huge impact on the course set forth for the 49ers and Seahawks. So don’t turn off the interest meter on these games just yet, it could get very interesting still.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks made it very clear last week who the top dog in the NFC west was after they demolished the 49ers in Seattle 42-13. After trailing the 49ers all year in the standings, they finally caught up with and surpassed them in conquering fashion. Over the last three games the Seahawks have scored 150 points, and have remarkably given up only 30. Their defense is the best in the league and their offense is surprisingly the best in the league heading into week 17. Their starting running back Marshawn Lynch is in full on beast mode now and it doesn’t look like any opposition will slow him. He has rushed for over 100 yards in the last three games and has scored seven touchdowns in the last four games. And rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has developed into a field general with talents that lend him to be mentioned in the race for the Rookie of the Year.
The Seahawks are carrying a ton of momentum right now, and this week’s match up against the St. Louis Rams should not alter their course in the slightest bit. They are the scariest team in the league right now, and they should blow out the Rams in the regular season finale.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have problems all the way around going into the final game of the regular season. The offense is in a major downward spiral at the moment, and they are desperately searching for a scheme that can produce on a consistent basis. Not only did the Seahawks cream them last week; they almost completely removed the running game of Frank Gore from the offensive scheme. With only six carries on the night, he was virtually nonexistent. And even though they beat the New England Patriots the week before, a closer look at the offense on that night reveals much of the same. The Patriots turned the ball over four times to the 49ers defense that gave the 49ers offense field position twice inside the red zone and twice just outside the New England 20 yard line. And then there was the fumble inside the five yard line that was picked up by Gore and ran in for a touchdown. That’s five scores on the game that either came by way of the defense or by pure luck. The lack of offensive presence for the 49ers was evident when the Patriots came roaring back with 24 points in the fourth quarter. Yeah that’s great for the Patriots resume, but the 49ers did get the ball a handful of times in the fourth, but could not muster much of an offense to keep Tom Brady off the field. Even the 49ers vaunted defense seems to be in a state of confusion, as they have given up 34 and 42 points in consecutive games. The 49ers have shown they are vulnerable and teams are taking note of how to defeat them, they had better right the ship quickly or a deep playoff run may be out of the question.
They play the Arizona Cardinals in the final week, and should be a lock to win the contest, but at this point one never knows what 49ers team will show up.
St. Louis Rams: For a team that was basically counted out prior to the season, the Rams have put together a very commendable year, almost making the playoffs. For a team that had major injury problems to deal with for most of the season, their record of 7-7-1 is probably the most remarkable achievement in the league. This is a young team with a huge upside, and though they fell short of the playoff this year, there is no doubt that they achieved their goals that they had set forth. Next year will be the defining year for the Rams, they have a defense that is only maybe one player away from being arguably the best in the league, and their offense is just coming into its own. There is a good chance that they are a playoff thorn in the side of a few teams next year.
Their final game of the season will be against the Seahawks so it doesn’t look all that promising, but these guys have over achieved all year. So it would not come as a surprise if they scratched and clawed out a win.
Arizona Cardinals: It’s been truly a miserable year for the Cardinals after starting 4-0. Quarterback issues and offensive line issues and running back issues have hampered this team to the point of more or less giving up. Just a few weeks ago they beat the Detroit Lions for their one victory of the season after their shot from a cannon start. Running back Beanie Wells has stated that he is no longer interested in working for the team and they are starting a quarterback in the final week that they signed from directly off the street. More than anything, this team is looking forward to the upcoming draft, but even then, the chances of fixing all the problems with picks seem futile. Their biggest concern is the offensive line, and with only so many draft picks allowed, there is concern that they still couldn’t fill the void given the limited amount.
This week they play the 49ers, and if all goes according to plan, they will get blown out as they don’t have a running back that is committed to production. It votes well for 49ers fans, as they hope to lock up the NFC west title.
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