Los Angeles Rams: 6-0
Seattle Seahawks: 3-3
Arizona Cardinals: 1-5
San Francisco 49ers: 1-5
Rams Update: W at Denver, 23-20
Some said the Rams couldn’t play in cold weather. Yet another stereotype these Rams destroyed last Sunday. Todd Gurley rushed for a career best 208 yards on 28 carries, to go along with 2 touchdowns. The defense played well in a bounce back performance, especially on the ground. Through 3 quarters, the Rams allowed 3 points. Marcus Peters played like his old self, after arguably the worst single game of his career in Seattle last week. Especially impressive was the run defense, which had been a lingering weakness the past few weeks. Coming into the game, Denver RBs had the highest per carry average of any group in the NFL. Denver was held to 60 yards rushing the entire game. Emmanuel Sanders proved to be a tough cover for reserve cornerback Troy Hill, who was taken advantage of more than once. John Johnson was able to secure an INT on an errant pass from Case Keenum to end one potential scoring drive, however. The #2 CB spot for the Rams continues to be somewhat of a sieve but it should be noted that WRs like Emmanuel Sanders are a tough cover for even the best corners. At times though, the biggest cause for concern was the play calling of Sean McVay. Too often, he exposed Jared Goff to the best pass rusher in the NFL, Von Miller. Gurley had his way on the ground, and excessive passing into the teeth of the Denver defense was not necessary. The 3rd and 6 turnover inside the Rams 10 being the most glaring, as it set up an easy Denver score. Late in the 4th quarter, the Rams were able to deliver on a drive that primarily featured the run and killed more than 5 minutes of clock. This set up a field goal to allow the Rams to bring the lead out to 10. Denver pulled to within 3 late, however failed to recover an onside kick after. Sean McVay, ever mindful of his own mistakes, owned the play calling and admitted it’s something he needs to be better at doing. At age 32, it is impressive to see him consistently own mistakes he makes. The other major concern stemming from this game is the injury to Cooper Kupp. In what looked like one of the more gruesome injuries of 2018, he was brought down by a horse collar tackle out of bounds. He left the game on a cart, and it seemed as if his season was over. However, he came back and actually played in a series to start the second half! He has however been diagnosed with an MCL strain, and will likely miss a week or two as a result. In the big picture, the Rams should consider themselves fortunate it was not far worse.
Seahawks Update: W vs Oakland(London), 27-3
In the Marshawn Lynch/Tom Cable revenge game, the Seahawks easily had the last laugh. Really at no point in this game did the Raiders seem threatening. It’s fair to question the methods of Raider HC Jon Gruden at this point in time. They essentially laid down for an easy Seahawks victory. A late field goal prevented a shut out, but it was barely a moral victory for a Raiders team that had hopes of playoff contention in 2018. For the Seahawks, it was a layup win they could have slept walked through. Evening their record at 3-3 as they head into the bye week, they now have time to sort out personnel on defense and continue to digest the Schottenheimer offense. While images of years past no doubt dance in the imaginations of Seahawks fans, it’s fair to point out that their defense without Earl Thomas against the Rams 2 weeks ago was essentially a push over. Beating up on bad Raiders teams is one thing, but before people declare that McDougald and Tedric Thompson are as good as Thomas/Chancellor we need to see something against a team that actually has it’s act together. Their next game against the Lions in 2 weeks will be a litmus test of whether or not they can consistently beat bad teams before they play the Chargers and then Rams again after that.
Cardinals Update: L at Minnesota, 27-17
This was the Cardinals first decent performance against a talented team, despite the 10 point loss. The Vikings did not establish a double digit lead until the 3rd quarter, and the Cardinals defense showed that it is able continue to force turnovers. The concerns however were still the same. The Cardinals run defense has been putrid this season, allowing a previously inept Vikings ground game to amass 199 yards. The Cardinals ground game was once again non existent, with David Johnson hovering around 3 yards a carry. Despite being sacked 4 times, Josh Rosen had a solid performance. He did have a single interception, but was effective going 21-31 for 240 yards. He was able to hit receivers downfield on several occasions. In spite of it being a loss, it is a stark improvement from his game against the 49ers where he went a mind numbing 10-25 against one of the worst defenses in football. The big takeaway here is that the Cardinals seem to be improving from the early part of the season where they looked as if they might go winless.
49ers Update; L at Green Bay, 33-30
In what ended up being one of the most entertaining prime time games of the early season, the 49ers lost a heart breaker to the Packers at Lambeau 33-30. The 49ers, likely angry that their upcoming game against the NFL leading Los Angeles Rams was flexed out of prime time next Sunday, took out their frustration on the Packers. CJ Beathard had a borderline career best game against a depleted Packers secondary, going 16/23 for 245 yards with 2 TDs to one INT. It was an impressive performance for him, as he is usually plagued by turnovers. The real story though behind his success was the 49er ground game churning out 174 yards. Unfortunately, the 49er defense eventually folded despite the Packers WR corps being more beat up than their own secondary was. After a Beathard INT deep in Packer territory, Rodgers was able to perform his usual magic to maneuver the Packers into what was essentially chip-shot field goal range in less than a minute. This drive was kept alive also by a classic Richard Sherman hold that resulted in a first down on a 3rd and long. Unlike the Seahawks teams of years part, this 49er team is not able to compensate for those kind of mistakes. However, it was a strong performance that showed the 49ers can be a scrappy team when the circumstances permit it. It has to be noted however, the Packers were not close to 100%.
The Los Angeles Rams continue to assert their dominance over the NFC West. The closest threat to them is Seattle, however this Seahawks team is far from the beast of year’s past. With the Rams having already secured a win in Seattle, it’s tough to imagine them losing at home when they play again in LA on November 11th. At this point, the 49ers and Cards are likely both picking inside the top 10 in 2019. That is not a bad thing for either team. Both of them need significant roster upgrades before returning to playoff contention. Also, I would be remiss to mention the unfortunate passing of Seahawks owner Paul Allen. You would have a tough time finding an owner in any sport who set a better example of how people with almost unimaginable wealth should conduct themselves. Not only did he save football in Seattle, his numerous other contributions to society will live on in perpetuity. As they say in the Night’s Watch: “We will never see his like again”
Week 7 NFCW Matchups
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos