NFC West Thoughts: Cardinals own NFC's largest losing streak, 49ers running away with division

Chris Graythen

It's going to be hard to pass San Francisco in the NFC West, with the Rams upending division opponents and the Seahawks failing to finish.

Another week, another loss for the Arizona Cardinals and it just gets more bewildering how a team could start out 4-0 and then drop seven straight games to pretty much close the book on a 2012 to mostly forget.
The NFC West all but out of their reach, the Cardinals were outplayed by the St. Louis Rams on Sunday as the division went 2-2 overall.

As bad as the Cardinals' loss was, the Seattle Seahawks (6-5) had to be kicking themselves for squandering a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter and allowing the Miami Dolphins to come from behind for a 24-21 win in Miami Sunday. It's tough to play those 10 a.m. games, where you travel across the country and have to adjust your body clock to play so early on West Coast time. That's real, even if it sounds like an excuse. The Seahawks have never been a very successful team when playing in Eastern time zone early games, and it came to pass again on Sunday.

At least that game provided the funniest moment of the week in the NFL -- the sprinklers suddenly starting without warning at Sun Life Stadium. The Seahawks remain in contention for a wild-card spot but lost a game they had won. Also of major concern is the Seahawks' road record, 1-5.

But the biggest issue facing the Seahawks is the impending four-game suspension of cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, arguably the best young cornerback tandem in the NFL. The two are appealing to the NFL for the substance abuse policy violation, but these things don't seem to be overturned much.

The class of the NFC West is San Francisco, with the 49ers winning again with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick directing the offense in 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints. The question is not whether the Niners will win the West, but who will be their quarterback going down the stretch -- Kaepernick or Alex Smith.

San Francisco is 4-0-1 in its last five games, 4-1 on the road. The 49ers are 8-2-1 and the division is theirs to win. the quarterback issue could be a distraction, but only two of their final five games are against opponents with winning records and 11 wins should win the division for them.

And the St. Louis Rams? They scored 17 points to the Cardinals' zero in the second half and left Arizona with a 31-17 win. The Rams won't make the playoffs this season, but they have shown some fight in a lot of games and came back strong from a pretty disheartening performance against the New York Jets last week.

The Rams (4-6-1) are 3-0-1 against NFC West opponents and swept the Cardinals this season; it's the non-conference teams they can't seem to overcome, with an 0-3 mark against them.

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