Final Word: NFC West

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireArizona's Beanie Wells could be a tough matchup for the 49ers, who will be without linebacker Patrick Willis.
Putting streak on the line: The San Francisco 49ers have tied a franchise record by allowing no rushing touchdowns in their past 13 games. Since the 1970 merger, only the 1985-86 Chicago Bears have gone more games in a row (15) without allowing one. The streak began with a 38-7 victory against Arizona to close last season. It could end against the Cardinals as well. Beanie Wells has nine rushing touchdowns this season, tied for fourth-most in the league. The Cardinals have blocked well in the running game and they won't have to contend with injured 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Then again, the streak without allowing a rushing TD began the last time Willis missed a game.

Sweeps week: The 49ers-Cardinals series has been lopsided every year since 2004. The Cardinals swept the season series in 2005, 2006 and 2008. The 49ers swept it in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010. A victory by San Francisco at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 14 would ensure an eighth consecutive season sweep for one of the teams in the series. The 49ers have won the past five.

Gaining momentum: The 49ers and Cardinals are among 11 teams with at least four victories apiece in their past five games. They are the only such teams playing one another in Week 14. The AFC East, AFC North and NFC West are the only divisions with two such teams. Pittsburgh, New England, Miami, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, Dallas, Green Bay and New Orleans are also 4-1 or better over their past five games.

Prepping for the Steelers: The Cardinals provide the 49ers with a good test run for San Francisco's looming Monday night matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15. Arizona and Pittsburgh use the same defensive scheme. Ray Horton, the Cardinals' first-year defensive coordinator, spent the previous seven seasons with the Steelers under longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. So while Pittsburgh has 11 days to prepare for San Francisco following a Thursday night victory against Cleveland, the 49ers have been preparing for the Steelers' defensive scheme even longer.

Yes, the Rams and Seahawks play, too: The Monday night matchup between the teams marks the third week in a row with a prime-time game featuring at least one NFC West team. We'll preview that game in greater detail Monday. For now, though, consider this: The 137.0 NFL passer rating Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson posted against Philadelphia last week was higher than any single-game rating by a Rams or Seahawks starter since Matt Hasselbeck's 147.7 against Tennessee in 2005. No Rams starter has posted a single-game rating above 137.0 since Kurt Warner's 145.6 against New Orleans in 2001. Marc Bulger never had one that high as a starter. Hasselbeck had just that one.

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