NFC West: standings

Sizing up the early NFC playoff standings

November, 19, 2012
The NFC playoff picture is taking shape heading into the final six weeks of the season.

Seattle is one of the leading wild-card contenders at present, but the Seahawks could still win the NFC West and its automatic berth. The team would qualify for the playoffs as the NFC's sixth and final seed if the season were finished already.

Seattle, Minnesota and Tampa Bay are tied with 6-4 records.

Head-to-head tiebreakers come into play if one team has defeated or lost to both other teams. Conference record is the next tiebreaker.

In this case, Minnesota lost to both Seattle and Tampa Bay. That would eliminate the Vikings from consideration. Seattle would then prevail over Tampa Bay based on superior record against NFC opponents.

Of course, much will happen before any tiebreakers come into play.

The first chart shows the remaining schedules for the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Vikings. The first column includes week numbers. The final row shows strength of remaining schedule, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The second chart shows current NFC order. "SOS" refers to strength of schedule. "SOV" refers to strength of victory.

QBR ranks: Sam Bradford answers call

November, 12, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sam Bradford showed Sunday what he can do when armed with a talented receiver he trusts implicitly.

The St. Louis Rams' third-year quarterback completed 11 of 12 passes when targeting Danny Amendola during a 24-24 tie against the San Francisco 49ers. He completed passes to Amendola even when the 49ers had tighter-than-tight coverage.

Amendola, who had been sidelined since Oct. 4, nearly added to that total with an 80-yard reception on the first play of overtime. Officials wiped out the play after determining Rams receiver Brandon Gibson was too far off the line of scrimmage at the snap. The Rams still outgained the 49ers (458-341) while building a six-minute advantage in time of possession.

Bradford finished the game with an 82.0 out of 100 Total QBR score. That ranked second in his career to the 94.7 he posted against Denver in 2010. His previous high this season was a 77.3 against Miami.

This was the type of performance Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. was seeking when he noted last week that Bradford hadn't been productive enough to this point in his career. Bradford completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. He continued a season-long trend with strong play in fourth quarters (and overtime, in this case). Bradford completed 14 of 19 passes (73.7 percent) for 126 yards and a touchdown after the third quarter Sunday.

Players posting full-season QBR scores in the mid-60s and higher are generally playing at a Pro Bowl level. Bradford has reached or exceeded that level in four games this season. He has been at 47.2 or lower in the Rams' other five games. The figure is 53.1 for the season to date (50 is average).

"I can envision Bradford throwing to Amendola as a slot/move-the-chains guy, Chris Givens as the perimeter home run hitter and Brian Quick as a hopeful do-it-all No. 1 receiver type behind an improved offensive line," Williamson said Monday. "They have to be aggressive in improving the line, but Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl should make a strong center-guard combo, and Rodger Saffold looks like another qualified starter, so that rebuild might not be as extreme as some think.

"And with time, we know Bradford can make great throws, which appeared to be the case Sunday against an excellent San Francisco defense."

With that, let's check out how NFC West quarterbacks fared for Week 10 in relation to Total QBR, with NFL passer ratings in parenthesis as a reference point (thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting info):
  • Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (82.0 QBR, 104.1 NFL rating): Bradford completed 26 of 39 passes (66.7 percent) for 275 yards with two touchdowns, zero interceptions and two sacks. He carried once, for no gain. He fumbled once. The Rams recovered. Bradford completed 8 of 12 passes for 102 yards on third down against the 49ers. Seven of those eight completed passes produced first downs. His third-down Total QBR was 75.9, his third-highest figure of the season (97.8 against Washington, 89.8 against Seattle). Bradford ranks third behind Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford in QBR for fourth quarters and overtime this season (min. 100 action plays).
  • Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (51.4 QBR, 143.8 NFL rating): Smith did not participate in enough plays to qualify for inclusion in the weekly rankings. He completed 7 of 8 passes (87.5 percent) for 72 yards with one touchdown, zero interceptions and two sacks. He gained five yards on two carries, including one yard on a fourth-and-1 sneak. The 49ers think Smith suffered a concussion following that quarterback sneak. He took two other hard hits during the same drive. The team tested him for a concussion following a hit from Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Smith passed that test. A high completion percentage and a touchdown pass pumped up Smith's NFL passer rating. Sacks worked against his QBR score. Also, Smith's passes traveled only 3.9 yards past the line of scrimmage on average. That was the second-lowest figure for a starting quarterback in Week 10 (Michael Vick, 2.2). The average was 10.3 yards for Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, who had a 94.4 QBR score on 14-of-20 passing with two touchdowns.
  • Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (45.8 QBR, 131.0 NFL rating): Wilson completed 12 of 19 passes (63.2 percent) for 188 yards with two touchdowns, zero interceptions and four sacks during a 28-7 victory over the New York Jets. He ran seven times for 34 yards and two first downs. He fumbled twice. The Jets returned one of the fumbles for their only touchdown, tying the game 7-7. Wilson did not appear comfortable early in the game despite throwing a 38-yard scoring pass. He emerged from the first quarter with a 158.3 NFL passer rating, the highest figure possible. But he appeared "rattled" to some, and Wilson's Total QBR concurred with those assessments. His score was 57.2 through one quarter, 27.8 through the first half and 45.8 for the game. Wilson completed all three attempts, one for a touchdown, without taking a sack during the fourth quarter. His QBR for that quarter was 99.0, but with only six action plays in the final quarter -- three pass attempts, three short rushes -- his full-game score lagged.
  • Colin Kaepernick (40.7 QBR, 84.7 NFL rating): Kaepernick completed 11 of 17 passes (64.7 percent) for 117 yards with zero touchdowns, zero interceptions and three sacks. He carried eight times for 66 yards and five first downs, including once rushing attempt for a touchdown. Kaepernick fumbled twice. The 49ers recovered both fumbles. Kaepernick missed Vernon Davis and Kyle Williams when both were open for potential big gains. His share of the blame for sacks taken more than offset the expected points QBR determined he added through passing. That is why his score was below average.

The chart below shows how quarterbacks from games involving NFC West teams fared in Total QBR for Week 10, provided they played enough to qualify for inclusion.

The column showing point above average reveals the "number of points contributed by a quarterback over the season, accounting for QBR and how much he plays, above the level of an average quarterback."

NFC West cleaned up on Eagles this season

December, 2, 2011
NFC West teams have gone 3-1 against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011.

That's something most of us wouldn't have anticipated heading into the season.

Dan Graziano's piece on the NFC East blog looks at how that division has fared against the NFC West this season. The Arizona Cardinals' home game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys stands as the last game between the divisions. The Cowboys are 3-0 against the NFC West.

Last season, the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers padded their records by going a combined 8-0 against this division. NFC West teams are 3-1 against the NFC South this season.

ESPN's NFL standings by division are worth a look. NFC West teams are 4-7 against the AFC North, 1-2 against the NFC North and 6-9 against the NFC East. The Rams have gone 0-4 against the NFC East.


NFC West teams now 12-23 outside division

December, 17, 2010
The San Francisco 49ers fell to 2-8 outside the NFC West with their 34-7 defeat to San Diego on Thursday night.

The NFC West now has a 12-23 record against teams from other divisions.

No division has fewer non-division victories this season.

The St. Louis Rams have an NFC West-leading 4-5 record outside the division.

A quick look at how each NFC West team has fared outside the division:
  • St. Louis (4-5): Beat Washington, San Diego, Carolina and Denver. Lost to New Orleans, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Atlanta.
  • Seattle (3-5): Beat San Diego, Carolina, Chicago. Lost to New York Giants, Denver, Oakland, New Orleans and Kansas City.
  • Arizona (3-5): Beat Oakland, New Orleans and Denver. Lost to Atlanta, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Kansas City.
  • San Francisco (2-8): Beat Oakland and Denver. Lost to New Orleans, Kansas City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and San Diego.

The chart breaks down the records overall and by division.

Cards crowned 'somewhere over Iowa'

December, 21, 2009
The Cardinals have posted video of their NFC West title celebration on the team plane home from Detroit.

Warning: This video, shot at 30,000 feet and 'somewhere over Iowa', may not be suitable for 49ers, Seahawks and Rams fans.

"Back to back, baby," broadcaster and former player Ron Wolfley crows, pointing to lettering on his NFC West championship hat. "Read it and weep."

Hats off to 2009 champion Cardinals

December, 21, 2009