NFC West highlights offense and defense
Allen Bridge, ‘Doah Staff Writer
November 20, 2013
Offenses win games, but defenses win championships. That is the theme of arguably one of the best divisions in football.
The NFC West consists of the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, who all pride themselves on having one of the best defenses in football. Arizona ranks 11 in total defense, St. Louis 16, Seattle ranks eighth and the 49ers rank tenth.
In a division where defense is prominent, points are going to be hard to come by. Seattle currently sits in first in the division at 9-1, followed San Francisco at 6-3, the Cardinals are at 5-4 and the Rams are last at 4-6.
Let’s start with the Rams. This was supposed to be a make or break year for them.
They have a lot of youth on their team from high draft picks from the past few years with newcomers Alec Ogletree and receiver Tavon Austin leading this year’s rookie class. They also brought in star offensive tackle Jake Long to better protect quarterback Sam Bradford.
Hopes were high but the dreams were crushed as Austin barely has seen the field, the running game got off to a late start with rookie Zac Stacy, and Bradford went down with a season ending ACL injury. The Rams this past weekend traveled to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Colts and Andrew Luck.
The Colts are one of the top teams in the league this year, but you wouldn’t have been able to guess that after the Rams absolutely dismantled them 38-8. The Rams defense was able to pressure Luck all game. The Rams are on a bye week this week, but will look to continue their defensive success when they come back to take on the Chicago Bears.
Next up is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were a wildcard coming into the year under new head coach Bruce Arians and his new staff. They cleaned out a lot of their veterans during the offseason such as safety Adrian Wilson, running back Beanie Wells, quarterback Kevin Kolb, cornerback William Gay and linebacker Stewart Bradley.
They brought in new players, such as cornerback Antoine Cason, linebackers Karlos Dansby and Lorenzo Alexander, and draft picks Alex Okafor and Tyrann Mathieu.
Last week, the Cardinals were able to pull out a victory in a back and forth game against the Texans that ended 27-24. The Cardinals will travel to take on the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, who have only won one game this season.
The San Francisco 49ers came into the year as heavy Super Bowl favorites after their performance last year. In the offseason, the 49ers traded away quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs and giving the starting job to Colin Kaepernick.
They signed free agent safety Craig Dahl, defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha and drafted the highly touted safety Eric Reid out of LSU to bolster an already elite defense. San Francisco hit a rough patch at the beginning of the year starting off 1-2 before rattling off five straight wins.
In a battle of defenses last week, the 49ers were not able to score a touchdown as they lost a close one to the Carolina Panthers 10-9. The 49ers look to get back on track this week as they travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the red hot Saints.
The Seattle Seahawks sit at an impressive 9-1. They came in to the season with high expectations under coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks bolstered their defensive line by signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in the offseason.
They also acquired the speedy receiver Percy Harvin to give Wilson another weapon on offense. The Seahawks started the season hot by beating Carolina and dismantling the 49ers on their way to a quick 4-0 start. The Colts were able to trip up the Seahawks in week five before Seattle went on another win streak to improve their record to 9-1.
This is mostly in thanks to their shutdown secondary, commonly referred to as the “Legion of Boom.” The Seahawks picked apart the Falcons 33-10 last week and will look to do the same this week as they take on the two win Vikings.
This division is essentially going to come down to the 49ers and Seahawks with one of them winning the division and the other likely taking a wildcard spot in the playoffs.