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NFC West Week 10 Preview

The NFC West is back at it this week. Each of the teams will be playing. The highlight of the week will be when the San Francisco 49ers host the Carolina Panthers. Prior to the season, many thought that the Seattle Seahawks against the Atlanta Falcons would feature two Super Bowl contenders. The Seahawks have lived up to the bill. The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams continue to struggle due to bad quarterback play and injuries.

Here is  how the standings fall going into week ten:

1) Seattle Seahawks 8-1     2) San Francisco 49ers 6 – 2     3) Arizona Cardinals 4-4     4) St. Louis Rams 3-6

Let’s take a look at each of the NFC West matchups :

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

The Seahawks are coming off of an emotional comeback at home over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They fought back from a 21 point deficit. This says a lot about their toughness. The Seahawks are winning with a patchwork offensive line and minimal play from their wide receivers not named Golden Tate. Russell Wilson has been taking big hits over the last two games. Despite that, this team has found a way to come back and win two very close games.

The Atlanta Falcons will get Stephen Jackson back which is very good news for them. Matt Ryan hasn’t had his full arsenal of weapons for quite some time but Harry Douglas has stepped up while Roddy White and Julio Jones have missed games. Their offense doesn’t leave much to be desired. The Georgia Dome is no longer a place where Matt Ryan is unbeatable.

110920mcquistan600Key Matchup: Osi Umenyiora vs Paul McQuistan Umenyiora has been getting pressure on the quarterback and has 4.5 sacks. He leads the Falcons in that category. McQuistan is filling in at left tackle for Russell Okung. This is a matchup that the Seahawks will need to win in order to keep Russell Wilson up right and give him a chance to make plays within their offense. 

The Verdict: Seahawks 24 Falcons 13

The Seahawks will return to Atlanta for some unfinished business after their loss last year in the divisional playoffs. Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom will have no problem neutralizing a softened Falcons passing attack. They have the players to matchup with Tony Gonzales. The Seattle pass rush is relentless. Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril will be looking to make life miserable for Ryan. Marshawn Lynch will be looking to have a big game against a Falcons defense that is giving up 116.2 yards per game. Lynch and the Seahawks are racking up 147 yards rushing per game. Look for that to continue against the Falcons.

St. Louis Rams @ Indianapolis Colts

The Rams have found a part of their offense that works, the running game. They got a second consecutive 100-yard game from rookie Zac Stacy, who had 127 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. That has been the bright spot for this offense that is struggling after the loss of Sam Bradford. Tavon Austin has been under utilized and Jared Cook has been very inconsistent. Defensively, the Rams are in very good shape. Chris Long and Robert Quinn are quietly one of the best book end tandems in the NFL. Their linebacking corps is pretty solid with Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis. Janoris Jenkins will continue to improve on the back end.

The Colts are playing really well. They lost their lead receiver in Reggie Wayne after an injury against the Denver Broncos. T.Y. Hilton has stepped up really well in becoming the top target for Andrew Luck. Donald Brown and Trent Richardson have formed a pretty solid one-two punch at running back. The Colts defense won’t wow anyone but they are a physical unit.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis RamsKey Matchup: T.Y. Hilton vs Janoris Jenkins Hilton has stepped up in a major way for Luck. He has been the primary option for Luck most of this season. Now that Wayne is out, the majority of pass attempts will go to him. Janoris Jenkins will need to press Hilton to slow him down or knock the timing off on his passes from Luck.

The Verdict: Colts 35 Rams 17

The Rams can run the ball and the Colts are giving up 124.9 yards rushing per game. Running the ball will prevent the Colts from getting a lot of plays on offense. They will need to do this to limit Luck’s opportunities. The Colts are playing very good football right now and will look to jump on the Rams early to put them away.

Houston Texans @ Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are a puzzling team. Carson Palmer can show signs of being a good quarterback again but then he throws a boneheaded pass. Some thought that pairing Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald would result in a very productive due. Michael Floyd has even regressed. Andre Ellington is a big play running back as show by his 7.7 yards per carry. Defensively, the Cardinals are pretty good. Daryl Washington can run with any tight end and can run sideline to sideline with the best of them. Lastly, Patrick Peterson is having an all pro caliber year.

Nothing has gone right for the Texans. Recently, head coach Gary Kubiak went down with an unknown injury. He was released from the hospital today. Matt Schaub has underwent a bad year and will be reserved to a backup role once again. Case Keenum is a gunslinger and makes the Texans a more explosive team because he will give his players a chance to make plays. The defense has suffered the loss of Brian Cushing after another horrifying knee injury.

patrick_petersonKey Matchups: Andre Johnson vs Patrick Petereson This is a marquee matchup that everyone will want to see. Johnson is coming off of a game in which he schored three touchdownns. Peterson is thought of the next shutdown corner. He has the size and speed to matchup against Andre Johnson. He will be tested by Johnson because Keenum has no problem throwing the ball up for Johnson to make a play on it.

Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are riding a five game winning streak. During this streak, their defense has scored two touchdowns and they have scored over 30 points in each of these games. The rushing offense has climbed to the top rank of the NFL gaining 153 yards per game. Frank Gore is among the league leaders in rushing touchdowns. They will also get Mario Manningham back for this game which will help the passing offense.

The Panthers are riding a win streak of their own. They have won four straight. Cam Newton is playing really well. He is not turning the ball over and is still a threat to take off for a big gain. The highlight of the Panthers is their defense. They are allowing the second least amount of points per game and teams are really struggling to run the ball against them. The defense is only allowing 79.1 yards per game.

Frank Gore, Kelly JenningsKey Matchup: 49ers rushing offense vs Panthers rushing defense Greg Roman and the 49ers have gotten back to their strong suit which is running the ball with authority. Their offensive line is built to go shoe to shoe and impose their will on opposing defenses. One of their best plays is the wham running play. This will be something that they will look to use against Star Lotulelei who is playing really well as a rookie. Luke Kuechley will be a factor if the 49ers employ the read option in this game. He is a very athletic linebacker that makes plays all over the field.

The Verdict: 49ers 17 Panthers 13

This is a matchup of two very stingy defenses. The 49ers are allowing 18.1 points per game and the Panthers are only allowing 13.2 points. Both of these defenses are very athletic which will be a key in stopping the two dual threat quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers will look to continue running the ball effectively and will go to Vernon Davis in the play action passing game.  Anquan Boldin will benefit from going against a defense that lacks a premier press corner. Look for the 49ers to gain over 100 yards rushing and Kaepernick will connect with Davis for a touchdown.

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