Week 14 NFC West Preview

By Kevin Garber

Week 14 in the NFC West is getting interesting as Arizona falls back to the pack and the rest surge forward:

 

St. Louis Rams vs. Washington Redskins
10:00 PST
FOX

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Well the Rams blew my “only beat good teams” theory by putting a hurting on the Raiders to improve to 5-7. They face a free falling Redskins squad that just dropped to 3-9.

Att

Comp

Comp

Yds

TD

INT

Rating

Week 11

29

20

69%

220

1

0

-0.1

Week 12

35

18

51%

198

1

2

-2.9

Week 13

22

13

59%

183

2

0

-0.4

 

Since taking over in Week 11 against Denver, Shaun Hill has gone 2-1 as the St. Louis starting QB. That being said, his numbers show he really has been a replacement level type QB as a starter. The thing he does present is less of a rollercoaster experience than Austin Davis was providing the team. If Tre Mason keeps running the ball like an All Pro and the defense plays as promised then replacement level consistantly will win games, but if the rest falls away Hill doesn’t have those big games to deliver the W.

Good thing for the Rams that Washington is a really bad team. The pieces are there to play well, but Washington has not put it together on the season and rotating out the QB doesn’t seem enough to fix the issues here. This feels like one of those games that one team is more likely to lose it than either will put together a great game in order to win it.

 

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Arizona Cardinals
1:05 PST
CBS

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Two weeks ago these teams were both riding high, but they’ve each dropped two in a row. Arizona still holds the lead in their division, but their position is now threatened. Kansas City has found themselves fighting for their playoff lives.

Att

Yds

Avg

YPC After Contact

TD

FUM

Week 12

10

24

2.4

1.4

0

0

Week 13

6

12

2.4

0

0

0

 

The knock on Andre Ellington has always been that you can never be sure if she can carry the load for the team as the go to back. The nay-sayers have had some great evidence for their collection this season, with the last two weeks serving as the main exhibits. For the season he has a 3.3 YPC avg, and 1.8 after contact. If that isn’t bad enough, the last four weeks he appears to be on a decline in effectiveness. Is he hitting the wall? The Cardinals better hope not, because they need him for their offense to survive post-Palmer.

The Chiefs face difficulty on the opposite side of the football, where injuries have depleted their defense. The Chiefs gave up 24 and 29 points the last two weeks, and carry with them the 30th ranked run defense giving up 136.4 yards per game. If Ellington were going to provide the counterpoint to those casting doubt on him this is the week to do it, and Arizona needs him to if they want a shot at winning.

 

Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles
1:25 PST
FOX

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Seattle has worked its way back to 8-4 with back to back dominating defensive performances. The Eagles sit at 9-3 and with a win over Dallas control their own destiny for their division.

Att

Comp

Comp %

YDS

TD

INT

Rating

176

111

63.1

1400

8

6

-5.4

 

Mark Sanchez has really revitalized his career this year, by being the exact same middling QB with the occasional dumpster fire game he has always been. Outside of a stinkfest against the Packers in week 11 Sanchez has been very mediocre. He still doesn’t make great throws to the outside, or throw an especially good deep ball. He pretty much makes decent throws to the middle and doesn’t embarass himself a lot. I suppose after the butt fumble that is an upgrade.

Sanchez finds himself going against a Seattle defense that has hit its stride the last two weeks, holding Arizona and San Francisco to 3 points each. Much in the same way that Drew Stanton was below average the rest of the year and dreadful against Seattle, Philly needs to worry about Sanchez being butt-fumble-level bad this week against a revitalized Seattle D that is looking like last year’s champs again.

 

San Francisco 49ers @ Oakland Raiders
1:25 PST
FOX

Richard Sherman, Michael Crabtree

The 49ers really hurt their playoff odds last week falling to Seattle, which puts them at 7-5 and 3rd int he NFC West. They could find themselves this year’s Cardinals on the outside looking in. Oakland on the other hand has played the sort of season that makes fans reach for an air sick bag, going 1-11 despite actually looking like a real football team at points this year.

 

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Rating 0.4 -4.6 3.5 24.7 -0.3 -6.1

 

So the funny thing about the NFC Championship game last year is that it was a huge controversy when Richard Sherman called out Michael Crabtree as mediocre (M-E-D-I-O-C-R-E). However, outside of an exceptional 2012 Crabtree has been fairly…well…mediocre. This season, he has actually been kind of bad. It will be interesting to see in coming seasons however if Kaepernick was holding Crabtree back, or if Crabtree is holding Crabtree back. I will say, if you watch the man play there is not a lot to wow you. He’s good, but nothing about his game looks great in any way.

Greatness, however, is not needed against this Oakland squad. There just isn’t a lot of gas in the tank and whether Crabtree has a good day or not isn’t likely to prove the difference. If Tuck and Mack have a good game putting a hurt on Kaepernick? Well, that could spell trouble. If the pass rush gets to the 49ers it will be interesting to see the long term effects on how it impacts team health as San Francisco fights for its playoff life.

 

*Efficiency ratings in this article are provided by ProFootballFocus.com

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