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Friday, December 5, 2008
Audibles: NFC West Week 14 preview

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

St. Louis Rams (2-10) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5), 4:15 p.m. ET
The bar keeps getting lower in Arizona's continuing efforts to claim its first division title since 1975, when the Cardinals called St. Louis home and the Rams played in Los Angeles.

The Cardinals have given up 85 points in defeats to the Giants and Eagles over the last two weeks. The Rams have scored 63 points during their current six-game losing streak. But the defense allowed only 12 points to the Dolphins in Week 13, and having Steven Jackson back in the lineup gives the Rams at least an outside chance.

While Arizona simply needs a 49ers defeat to win the NFC West crown, anything short of a victory over the Rams might send them down the road to 8-8.

We've spent the week dissecting the Cardinals' problems running the ball. Let's not forget about Anquan Boldin. He dropped two passes and lost a fumble against the Eagles in what might have been the worst game of his career. Expect much better from him Sunday.

New York Jets (8-4) at San Francisco 49ers (4-8), 4:05 ET
The Jets haven't exactly played their best on the West Coast this season, but the 49ers' season-long issues at safety could make them vulnerable against Brett Favre.

This would be a good week for the 49ers' safeties to record their first interception of the season. Favre's occasional carelessness gives them a chance, but the overall matchup favors the Jets.

Both teams feature young and talented tight ends. The Jets' Dustin Keller has more receptions as a rookie (40) than the 49ers' Vernon Davis has managed in two of his three seasons. Watch to see how much time Davis spends in pass protection.

N. England Patriots (7-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-10), 4:05 ET
Deion Branch's first game against his former team lacks sizzle. The injury-plagued Seattle receiver has 13 receptions this season, his third since the Seahawks acquired him from the Patriots for a first-round draft choice.

Branch has been mostly a non-factor for Seattle since the trade two years ago. He's been a non-factor in New England since the Patriots signed Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

Safety Brandon Meriweather, the player New England selected with the choice from Seattle, leads the Patriots with four interceptions.

Update: New information on the Seattle injury front.