By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
It has been said a lot this week that the NFC West could be one of the most competitive divisions in the league. With San Francisco being undefeated, both Seattle and Los Angeles right in the thick of it, and Arizona beginning to shine, the NFC West isn’t a division anyone else in the league wants to face anytime soon.
Looking at week 8, two of the teams face opponents that are struggling to find wins, the other two face teams that will give them some serious competition. By the end of the week, will we still believe in the strength of the division? Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups.
Arizona Cardinals vs New Orleans Saints
Sunday, 1:00p ET
The Cardinals have won their last three games, two of them being away games. While the teams they faced in those three games only have a total of 3 wins between them for the entire season, those wins show that the Cardinals are getting stronger each game. Quarterback Kyler Murray is putting up fantastic numbers, and the team’s game plans seem to be evolving.
This week will be a huge test for the rookie QB and his first-year coach, Kliff Kingsbury. They head to the Big Easy to face the red hot New Orleans Saints. The Saints are on a 5 game winning streak, have only lost one game all year, and, to top it all off, might be getting their future Hall of Fame QB back this week. Even if QB Drew Brees doesn’t return, this game will be a very difficult task for the Cardinals.
Cincinnati Bengals vs Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, 1:00p ET
International Series, London
The Rams got back on the right path last week, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 37-10. Before that, they had lost three in a row, two to divisional rivals. However, winning this game would send them into their bye week with a record of 5-3, giving them a big boost down the stretch.
This week the Rams face a zero win team, the Cincinnati Bengals. 99.9% of media and fans feel this will be an easy, no brainer win for the Rams, the test will be in the travel. This is the third NFL game in London this year, and as we saw with the Chicago Bears, the travel can mess with the teams. However, the Bengals can’t seem to make anything click on the field this year so it may not matter. Despite Rams QB Jared Goff’s occasional struggles, this should be a one-sided game.
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) October 22, 2019
Carolina Panthers vs San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 4:05p ET
The 49ers are the only undefeated team left in the NFC. Although I don’t agree with the take, many like to talk about the ease of San Francisco’s schedule and how it plays into their record. However, those naysayers won’t be able to continue that line of reasoning after Sunday when the 49ers play the Panthers who are on a 4 game win streak.
While San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo has played ok, its been the defense that has been the 49er’s biggest strength this season. They will need that strength this week, facing QB Kyle Allen, a back up who may have stolen the starter’s job, and running back Christian McCaffrey who is having an MVP caliber year. While the San Francisco defense is ranked 1st or 2nd in almost all categories, stopping the run hasn’t been the easiest for them. This will be their key to keeping that perfect record.
Two hot teams, both on a roll, with fantastic defenses. This could be the game of the week.
Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 1:00p ET
The Seahawks hit a bump in the road on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, losing 30-16. However, the Seahawks are still considered one of the better teams in the NFC at 5-2. The league has learned over the years that anytime Seattle QB Russell Wilson is under center, the game will be a battle. Seattle also has one of the best win percentages after a loss. For those two reasons alone, most think Seattle will bounce back this week. Then we add in who they are playing.
The Atlanta Falcons have been a surprise this season, and not for the best of reasons. Currently, they sit with just one win and are at the bottom of the NFC South. Injuries have been an issue for the Falcons. QB Matt Ryan has an ankle injury, cornerback Desmond Trufant is fighting turf toe, and other key members of the team are beat up. Add to that some terrible game play, and trading away wide receiver Mohamad Sanu to the New England Patriots…things don’t look good for Atlanta.
The NFC West got some new players in the last few weeks. The Rams traded for cornerback Jalen Ramsey to strengthen an already great defense. San Francisco traded for WR Emmanuel Sanders to boost their offense. Seattle called up one of their favorite trade partners in the Detroit Lions and got S Quandre Diggs. These additions make an already great division even better.