NFC West: audibles 12 NFC
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
No game involving an NFC West team has generated more buzz on the blog. We're pushing 900 comments on the Wednesday preview item, which picked up where the Hot Topic item left off. Kickoff can't get here quickly enough.
X-Philer might have put it best: "Can anyone believe we are talking about the AZ Cardinals possibly winning their division in week 12. I was in U of P stadium on Monday night when the Cards played the 49ers and let me tell ya the place was rock'n, even when all seemed lost the crowd stayed in it. These guys are tough to beat at home."
The Cardinals are seeking their fifth consecutive home victory this season. The team hasn't won five consecutive home games in one season since 1976, the longest drought of any team in existence that long. A victory over the Giants would end the streak and establish Arizona as more than just a good team in a bad division.
The Redskins have been at their best running the ball with Clinton Portis and relying less on the arm of quarterback Jason Campbell. But with Seahawks icon Jim Zorn returning to Seattle for the first time as Redskins coach, he'll be tempted to beat his old team through the air.
Zorn's familiarity with the Seahawks on both sides of the ball could work to his advantage. I'm interested in seeing how both head coaches manage their passing games.
Seattle's third-down offense is one of three in the NFL averaging fewer yards per play passing (3.59) than rushing (3.92), not a good sign. The Redskins' ability to drop into coverage and match up with opposing receivers has the potential to frustrate Matt Hasselbeck.
The 49ers enter a brutal stretch with four of their next five games on the road and all four scheduled to start at 10 a.m. PT.
Interim coach Mike Singletary will have to earn the job for 2009. The schedule certainly isn't going to give it to him. A victory over the Cowboys -- in his home state, no less -- would dramatically upgrade Singletary's profile.
This is also a time for the 49ers to evaluate their recent drafts. Second-year receiver Jason Hill is getting an extended look. Rookie Chilo Rachal figures to play and possibly start at right guard. Third-year tight end Vernon Davis is showing signs of becoming more effective in the end zone. Second-year left tackle Joe Staley faces a tough matchup against Demarcus Ware.
The Rams have scored more points against their own fans than against opposing defenses lately. Guard Richie Incognito's untimely barbs at allegedly unfaithful and clueless supporters might distract from the product on the field, but only briefly.
While Incognito ripped fans this week, interim coach Jim Haslett targeted his underachieving players in a desperate attempt to reverse a four-game streak of Sunday surrenders.
No matter. This team appears on the fast track to a second consecutive 3-13 season. After Chicago, the Rams face the Dolphins, Cardinals (road), Seahawks, 49ers and Falcons (road).