Final Word: NFC West

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
1:30
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 2:

Cards' defense to the test: Arizona's defense is coming off a dominant performance against Seattle. The Patriots present a different challenge at quarterback and with their personnel packages featuring two tight ends. New England used at least two tight ends on every offensive play last week, becoming the second NFL team since 2008 to do so (New England also did it in Week 14 last season).

Defenses shift from base personnel into subpackages about 90 percent of the time when defending the Patriots' double-tight end offense. The Cardinals presumably will do the same, but that will mark a shift for them.

[+] EnlargeDarnell Dockett
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsArizona's defense, led by Darnell Dockett, right, and Adrian Wilson, 24, will have its hands full Sunday in New England.
Since Week 9 last season, when Arizona's defense came to life, the Cardinals have stayed in a base 3-4 defense 86 percent of the time when defending double-TE groupings. Arizona has allowed two touchdowns on 103 pass attempts on these plays. New England has 19 touchdowns on 311 pass attempts from its double-TE offense over the same span. One difference this year: Against Tennessee last week, the Patriots ran the ball more from their double-TE package, striking a 27-27 balance in run-pass ratio. Twenty-four of those rushes gained 135 yards against Tennessee's subpackages.

Rough road: The Cardinals head to Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots have a 67-13 (.838) record. That's the best home winning percentage at any stadium since 1970 (minimum 25 games), according to the NFL. New England is 10-0 in home openers at Gillette.

Streaking Stafford: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford heads to San Francisco riding a streak of four consecutive games with at least 350 yards passing. He and Drew Brees are the only players in NFL history with a 350-yard streak that long. Brees set the record last season. The 49ers shouldn't be all that concerned about passing yards allowed (Alex Smith could tell us that). Four quarterbacks topped 300 yards against the 49ers last season. Tony Romo was the only one to emerge a winner, overcoming a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to lead Dallas' overtime victory in Week 2. Philadelphia's Michael Vick was the most recent quarterback to top 350 yards against the 49ers. He passed for 416 last season, but the 49ers prevailed 24-23.

Seahawks' pass rush: The Seahawks expect new pass-rushers Bruce Irvin and Jason Jones to help contain opposing quarterbacks. Results were generally positive in Week 1, but Seattle managed only one sack against a Cardinals offensive line featuring two unproven tackles. Against Dallas in Week 2, Seattle needs its rush to combine with home crowd noise to prevent Romo from extending his streak of strong performances on the road. Romo has completed 71.4 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 3-2 record in his past five road games. Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Smith and even Rex Grossman made big plays at times during road victories against the Seahawks last season. Has anything changed?

Containing RG3: The St. Louis Rams need to beware the play-action fake when trying to contain Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin used play-action 16 times during a victory against New Orleans, tied for the Redskins' second-highest total since Mike Shanahan became head coach. Griffin completed 11 of 14 passes for 237 yards on these plays, averaging 16.9 yards per attempt (up from 6.9 on his other 12 attempts). The Rams didn't have to worry about the play-action game at Detroit last week. Stafford completed one of his four attempts, gaining 8 yards, while using the tactic.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this post.

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