Week three in the wild NFC west continued the trend of a new team earning a win, as Seattle joined the Rams and 49ers by earning their first victory. There is a chance Arizona could finally abandon the winless ranks this Sunday, but don’t hold your breath as they host the Seahawks, and their guest seems to have figured out a few things on both sides of the ball.
San Francisco’s season appears to be over, as they had already lost starting RB Jerrick McKinnon before the season started, but were on their way to a decent year with current NFL rushing leader Matt Breida. Look for Breida’s stock to plummet now that they lost starting QB Jimmy Garapolo to a torn ACL in the loss to Kansas City. Without a talented QB to keep defenses honest, opposing coordinators can just call plays to load the box and dare them to pass.
Speaking of moving on, Seattle got a much needed win over Dallas, which catapulted their chances of making the playoffs to the low teens, when it was in danger of falling to less than three percent had they lost. I won’t scare you off with numbers, but the percentage of teams to make the playoffs at 1-2 is surprisingly higher than teams who fall to 0-3. Let’s just say that the chances of success almost follow the record of said teams.
Arizona seemed to have a repeat of the “THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!” game, as they led Chicago 14-3 at halftime before the wheels came off in the second half and the Bears shut out the Cardinals the rest of the way. Even if they don’t win this week, at least we’ll know if Josh Rosen is ready to start now, and if not, it could light a fire in Sam Bradford, who hasn’t looked right since setting the Saints’ defense on fire in week one of last season.
And then there are the Rams – who appear to be on a one-way train for the conference championship after dismantling a good team in the Chargers, and are now the only undefeated team in the NFC. Will the short-term loss of their star CBs derail their promising start? We’ll find out this Thursday, when they host what should be an extremely angry Vikings team with a bevy of weapons on both sides of the ball. Prior to their week 11 showdown with Kansas City in Mexico, this week’s game may be the Rams’ biggest test over the course of the season.
So what can you expect this week?
The 49ers are travelling to the other LA (Chargers) this weekend, and would have presented a decent matchup before everyone playing offense started tearing up their knees. How does passing on Aaron Rodgers look now?? As their roster currently stands, you’d have a hard time convincing me that they will even be competitive in the contest, let alone win it. This should be an easy win for the Chargers, and the first of what will likely be a long line of lopsided losses for the 49ers in the next few months.
The Seahawks finally got their run game on track, as Chris Carson eclipsed 100 yards and punched in a rushing touchdown, and he seems to have finally won the full time job. The defense looked good with Bobby Wagner back, and Earl Thomas may be playing for someone else next year, but he sure looks good in a Seattle uniform while auditioning for potential trade partners. There is clearly a continued disconnect between Thomas and the front office, and they had better enjoy his performances while they still have him under contract.
The Seahawks got a much needed win at home and now travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals, and they need to be weary of a wounded beast, even if things don’t appear that way. Arizona looks about as inept on offense as one could imagine, but they have talent and could see a spike in production and overall team effort as #10 overall pick Josh Rosen takes over at QB. The track record of young QBs sparking an offense is not common, but it worked for Cleveland last week, it worked for the Jets in week one, it can work this week for the Cardinals. There is zero game film of Rosen in a complete game at the pro level and in a game that matters, and he is working for a guy that made Tim Tebow a consistent winner, so don’t bet on a loss out of the gate.
Doug Baldwin could return this week, but you would hope they can win this game without him. Seattle winning will prove the win over Dallas was not a fluke or an act of desperation, but a sign the team is getting back on track. If they fall to 1-3, oh man……they just better not let that happen.
And finally, Rams-Vikings, the NFC Championship matchup we were promised last season. Without star corners Talib (on IR for at least next 8 weeks) and Peters (questionable to play) , this Rams defense is suddenly mortal, and facing Stephon Diggs and Adam Theilen catching passes Kirk Cousins. I seriously doubt they like that. The Vikings could be without Trae Waynes so Xavier Rhodes could be on more of an island than usual. They still have key pieces of a top-5 secondary, but we’ll see if they can bounce back from such an embarrassing loss to the Bills and rookie QB Josh Allen.
The Rams appear even stronger on offense, and the combination of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Todd Gurley is just too much for most defenses to handle. The Vikings have the talent, and while you don’t count out a talented defense because of one bad game, but they gave up 16 points to the 49ers in week one and 29 points to the Packers in week two before the flood gates opened in week three and they allowed 27 points to a team that only scored 23 combined in the first two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Rams are averaging 34 points a game on offense, and only allowing 12 per game so far this season. We know this Vikings team can score, but their offensive line is struggling to block average defenses. I can’t tell you what to expect, especially if Dalvin Cook misses another game, but on paper this looks like the only primetime matchup you must see this week, and we’ll have to hope both teams show up and deliver a classic.