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Sunday, October 31, 2010
Hot Topic: Who wins the NFC West?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It's the question NFC West teams refuse to answer.

Which team will win this division title and the playoff berth that goes along with it?

A quick look at each team after Week 8:
Seattle Seahawks (4-3): The Seahawks had injury issues coming into their defeat at Oakland. They've got major injury issues now. Three-fourths of their starting defensive line did not finish the game (counting Brandon Mebane, who did not play). Same goes for the left side of their offensive line (counting Russell Okung, who did not play). Can Matt Hasselbeck hold up? Seattle now faces physical opponents in the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs.

St. Louis Rams (4-4): The Rams are in good position to gain ground during their bye week while Seattle and Arizona face tough matchups. The schedule will not do the Rams any favors, however. They could be underdogs in each of their next six games. It's an upset if the Rams are 6-8 heading into their final two games. Not that sitting at 5-9 would necessarily exclude them from consideration. Seven victories could be enough to win this division.

Arizona Cardinals (3-4): Give them mediocrity at quarterback and they might be leading the division outright. The schedule does work in the Cardinals' favor, however. They've got four of their next six games at home and only two of their remaining opponents have winning records. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't immediately say which quarterback will start against Minnesota in Week 9. Derek Anderson has to get the call, doesn't he?

San Francisco 49ers (2-6): They've won two of their last three games and their next two are at home following a bye. But the 49ers then play four of five games on the road and there's little reason to trust San Francisco. Troy Smith did make key plays at opportune times in his first start with the team. The 49ers can dare to dream. Beating St. Louis and Tampa Bay at home over their next two games could realistically leave the 49ers with as many victories as any team in the division.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts and getting input from others. I'll revisit the subject on the blog during the week.