By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
In just a handful of plays, in a couple of different games, the waters got muddy in the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks decided this week was the week to forget they were the best offense in the league, and the Los Angeles Rams took full advantage of it. The Arizona Cardinals, on a wing and a prayer (and the arm of their quarterback), threw a Hail Mary that was almost impossible to catch… until they did.
These two games created a log jam at the top of the NFC West. Three teams that are 6-3. We knew this was the best division in football, and this week proved it is going to be a fight to the end to win it.
We should probably start with the Seahawks vs Rams game since it had so many subplots going on, but I’d rather give the top spot to the upstart Cardinals. The game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday was one of the better games of the day. It was a back-and-forth affair that showcased two of the best, young QBs in the league. Bills fans thought for sure they had the game won when the Bills took the lead with just seconds left in the game, but Arizona QB Kyler Murray had other ideas.
The QB threw a hail mary down the field into a crowd of Bills and Cardinals players…and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins came down with it. It was a nearly impossible catch to make, but that is exactly why the Cardinals traded for the superstar receiver. Arizona beat Buffalo 32-30.
After the loss to the Miami Dolphins last week, there were a couple of questions surrounding the Cardinals team. Mistakes on both offense and defense in this game still leave room for improvement, but with a 2-0 record in the division, the Cardinals are in the driver’s seat.
HOP CAUGHT IT!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/lyAG9gWYPn
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 16, 2020
The other two 6-3 teams played each other this week. The Seattle Seahawks, who had been leading the division all season, have had a series of games that could be called disasters that have brought them back down to earth. The Rams, who started the season somewhat slowly, have started to play very well and much more consistently. Those who follow the division know this matchup has always been a difficult one for Seattle, and difficult it was.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson had been the front runner for MVP, until a streak of uncharacteristic games, 3 to be exact, have basically bumped him from that conversation. Turnovers, bad decisions, and questionable coaching decisions completely derailed the statistically great offense. Add to that the possibly historically bad defense the Seahawks have dealt with all year, which normally the offense can save, there wasn’t much going in favor of Seattle. Head coach Pete Carroll will have to take a deep look within to see where and how they can save their season.
As for the Los Angeles Rams, HC Sean McVey has always played the Seahawks well. A thorn in the side of Seattle, McVey is always prepared for anything Seattle throws at him. QB Jared Goff, while he was sacked multiple times, got the ball to his playmakers and didn’t make the same mistakes we saw him make earlier in the year. But even more importantly, the Rams defense figured out a way to not only slow down Wilson but to corral WR D.K. Metcalf, who has been tearing up secondaries all season. The Rams beat the Seahawks 23-16.
Fourth in the division are the San Francisco 49ers, who lost to a very good New Orleans Saints team. While everyone thought they would be right in the middle of the fight for the division, injuries have completely destroyed this team and its chemistry. That’s not to say that as they get these players back they won’t be able to get much better, but it may be too little too late with the way the other 3 teams are playing.
The NFC West will be a dog fight to the end. All three teams who sit at 6-3 have the talent to beat just about anyone, and all three will probably make it to the playoffs. The battles between them will be some of the best football has to offer this year, and the next one is right around the corner as the Cardinals travel to Seattle for Thursday Night Football this week.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG