Rookies lead Seahawks, Rams to big wins in Week 13.
Two of the three NFL games in Week 13 involving NFC West teams went into overtime, and the fourth was a painful one-point loss for the Arizona Cardinals to the New York Jets, But no use dwelling on an eighth straight Cardinals loss. The NFC West would have two playoff teams if the season ended now, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks got only their second road win of the season, a 23-17 overtime win over the Chicago Bears. Quarterback Russell Wilson was electric against a usually dominant and turnover-forcing Bears defense, throwing for 293 yards (including the winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice in overtime) and running for 71.
Wilson has had some good performances this season, but this one might be the defining effort of his rookie campaign. On the road, facing adversity after the Seattle defense allowed the Bears to tie it in regulation time when Brandon Marshall was left uncovered downfield on the final drive, Wilson didn't turn the ball over once.
At 7-5, the Seahawks have three of their last four games at home, where they are undefeated this season, and even if they lose their two main cornerbacks, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, to a league suspension, they should still be in the playoff hunt.
The St. Louis Rams are 5-6-1 and still believing in their playoff chances after rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein booted a 54-yard field goal late in overtime to give the Rams a 16-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Zuerlein also made a 53-yarder to force overtime.
Colin Kaepernick is pretty impressive for a young quarterback, but he couldn't get the job done for the 49ers (8-3-1). San Francisco still is in good shape to win the division, and if Kaepernick keeps improving, could be even more formidable than the man he replaced, Alex Smith. Kaepernick impressed more with his running ability on Sunday, but he can still make good throws.
The Cardinals notwithstanding, the NFC West has to be considered in the better half of the eight in the league. Folks knew the 49ers would be very good, but the Seahawks and certainly the Rams have surpassed expectations. Surprisingly, the only winless team in the division is the Seahawks, who have lost to the three other teams on the road but host all three over the last four weeks of the regular season.