Friday, October 22, 2010
Final Word: NFC West
By Mike Sando
Five nuggets of knowledge about the NFC West in Week 7:
1. Look, over here, a marquee matchup. Three NFL games this week feature two teams with winning records. One of them, Arizona at Seattle, takes place right here in the NFC West. Don't tell anyone, though. Let's keep the focus on the truly attractive matchups. Much of the country's television audience gets Washington at Chicago in the early game, and who wouldn't want to watch teams with a combined 0-2 record against St. Louis and Seattle? Don't forget to watch New England's game against San Diego later in the day. Hey, the Chargers did keep the final score close against the Rams after falling behind 17-0 by halftime. OK, enough provincial sarcasm for one blog entry. Time to charge forward with a straighter face.
Rookie Russell Okung has solidified the left tackle position for the Seahawks.
2. The Seahawks have a left tackle.Russell Okung is his name. Unlike four of the left tackles Seattle either used or wanted to use last season, Okung remains employed by an NFL team. Okung's presence in the lineup against Arizona spares the Seahawks from the nightmare that befell them against the Cardinals about this time last season. Seattle's projected starting left tackle for 2009, Walter Jones, was unavailable and headed for retirement. Sean Locklear and Brandon Frye had taken turns manning the left tackle spot early in the season, but injuries forced Kyle Williams into the lineup for the Arizona game. Calais Campbell had 1.5 sacks for the Cardinals in that game and Seattle's offense struggled to function. The Seahawks would later use Damion McIntosh as their starter at the position. Jones, Frye, Williams and McIntosh are out of the league.
4. The 49ers' formula.Alex Smith has thrown a league-high nine interceptions this season, but he tossed none last week against Oakland in the 49ers' first victory of the season. Week 7 opponent Carolina lags in just about every statistical category, but the winless Panthers' defense has picked off nine passes, tied for fourth most in the league. Related note: The Rams' Sam Bradford has thrown eight interceptions, tied for second most in the league, and the Bucs' defense has picked off 10, one fewer pass than league-leading Atlanta has intercepted.
5. Rookie Qwest. The Cardinals' Max Hall becomes the fifth rookie quarterback to start a game against Seattle at Qwest Field. The previous four -- Josh Freeman (2009), Matthew Stafford (2009), Troy Smith (2007) and Alex Smith (2005) -- posted a 1-3 record and combined 57.7 passer rating. Freeman was most impressive, completing 16 of 26 passes for 205 yards, two touchdowns and a 95.8 rating during a 24-7 Bucs victory. Stafford tossed five picks. The two Smiths, Troy and Alex, led offenses that combined for nine points.