Final Word: NFC West
October, 23, 2009
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:
|Jason Bridge/US Presswire|
|Kurt Warner needs to get rid of the football quickly against the Giants' pass rush.|
Two tights still make sense. The Cardinals' dramatically increased use of two tight ends upon Ben Patrick's return might not be a one-game phenomenon. Receiver Anquan Boldin's ankle injury could limit how much the Cardinals use him. Putting a second tight end on the field makes sense if Boldin is indeed limited. Arizona also faces likely issues in pass protection against the Giants. A second tight end could help in that area as well, unless Arizona decides to spread the field and stick with its quick passing game. Rookie running back Beanie Wells has vastly outperformed Tim Hightower as the lone running back from the Cardinals' primary two-tight end grouping. Wells has a 4.3-yard average on 16 carries from this grouping. Hightower has a 2.3-yard average on 11 such carries. Is the Cardinals' offensive identity evolving?
Clements one key for the 49ers. The Texans' Andre Johnson takes his turn against 49ers cornerback Nate Clements. Clements has helped the 49ers match up well inside the NFC West. The Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald has averaged about 35 fewer yards per game against the 49ers since San Francisco signed the veteran corner in 2007. That success hasn't always transferred against other receivers. Terrell Owens surpassed 200 yards receiving against Clements and the 49ers in 2008. Roddy White had a 200-yard game against Clements and the 49ers in Week 5. The 49ers need Clements' best in this matchup. I'm not sure if they will get it. Johnson's size-speed combination could be problematic.
The Rams are protecting the pass protector. The Rams are leaning toward starting Adam Goldberg at right tackle even though rookie first-round choice Jason Smith is healthy enough to play. It's probably a smart move. The Colts' Robert Mathis tends to dominate whichever tackle he lines up against. The Rams have brought along Smith slowly. Throwing him onto the field against Mathis in his first start since suffering a knee injury would not produce positive results for Smith or the Rams. Goldberg is going to have problems, too, but the expectations are different for him. The Rams will probably fall behind the Colts, putting St. Louis in obvious passing situations. Mathis and fellow defensive end Dwight Freeney have to like their chances.
Michael Crabtree's time has come. The 49ers' rookie receiver makes his NFL debut Sunday against the Texans. Are the 49ers getting ahead of themselves? My thoughts on the video.