Four weeks in -- 2015 NFL season -- NFC West


Arizona (3-1)

Amazing thing about the Cardinals… when Carson Palmer plays, they generally win. (The thing is, unless there is a real reason for it, I don’t like using injuries and health to predict a season. So, yeah, using “if Palmer stays healthy” as an observation is out.)

You tell me though… the only loss for Arizona came in a game where they scored 22 points against division rival St. Louis. Other than that… 31, 48 and 47. All while holding opponents to under 20 per game. That sounds good, really good, right?

Ok… now consider three of the first four were at home, and they’ve played New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco along with St. Louis. Slightly less impressive, right?

I think we’re going on a roller coaster ride with the Cardinals. Yeah, sure, they have the Lions on the schedule. And the Browns. They also have the Steelers and Packers. Plus, they’re already 1-1 in the division with two games remaining against the Seahawks. Maybe Seattle isn’t as scary as last season (more on that in a second), the general idea is that this division could be chaotic and up for grabs until the end.

Strong defense. That’s a big plus. Good options on offense. I think the Cardinals are going to hold on and take the NFC West. If they can pull an upset over Pittsburgh or Green Bay, they might even be able to keep pace with the NFC South leader for that second seed and playoff bye week.

I suppose I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take the NFC and head to the Super Bowl. Stranger things have happened. I just get this feeling that everyone talking big about Carson Palmer… and saying that when Palmer plays, they win… are trying more to convince themselves that the Cardinals are good than to convince us.

St. Louis (2-2)

Zero clue what to say about the Rams.

After starting off the year with 34 points and a huge divisional victory over the Seahawks, we’ve gotten two performances where they couldn’t score (accomplishing the stunning 10 against Washington and 6 against Pittsburgh). Then, they go out and put up 24 points to pull off a huge divisional road win over Arizona.

So… yeah… unpredictable, inconsistent, with all sorts of questions facing the offense.

I loved the drafting of Todd Gurley, but we don’t have much there yet. Heck, given the ups and downs, we don’t have much anywhere.

Hitting the old reliable… the schedule… the Rams have a playoff opportunity wrapped up if they can figure things out, score some points, and learn how to win strings of games. I know, I know… duh. But check out what happens in a few weeks. They start November with the 49ers… who they play twice from November on… and, from that first meeting on, frankly only have a road game against the Bengals as a matchup that looks truly difficult.

Unfortunately, I think we’re going to see the Rams arrive at 8-8. They’ll beat the 49ers and then lose to the Vikings. They’ll beat the Bears and Ravens (all sorts of excitement results) and then lose to the Bengals and Cardinals. And so on. That’s what we’ve seen so far.

Seattle (2-2)

Over the years, I’ve done a ton of research into different things. One item that became quite true over the past fifteen years was a run where Super Bowl teams failed to make the playoffs the following year. Honestly… other than New England… it just didn’t happen. Play in the Super Bowl one year, make early January tee times for the next.

Another funny thing… and I can’t tell you if this trend continues… but back around the years when New England was running off a perfect regular season… as I recall teams didn’t make out too well after playing the Patriots. It was like a hangover lingered after a particularly difficult struggle.

Enter the Seahawks. And while we could look at whether or not playing the Patriots, in a game that ended in stunning fashion for the Seahawks, let’s not. Instead…

Think about how much time the Seahawks have invested, how many games the Seahawks have played, beyond the normal demands in the past two seasons. Six playoff games… and basically an extra ten weeks of practice, games, and travel.

This offseason, we began to see the difficulties hit from a payroll perspective. Keeping players, losing players… who to bring in, who to let go… and the formation of a roster.

They brought in Jimmy Graham, and haven’t shown a single sign that they intend to use him.

Defense looks great… but, you know, Chicago and Detroit as the past two opponents. Neither of those two teams could have found the end zone with a map, compass, GPS, three experienced trail guides and every offensive possession starting with field position that qualified for first and goal.

This is still a dangerous team. Funny thing though. Over time, luck begins to even out. The ridiculous ending… where every possible thing that had to go right against the Packers did go right… comes back around with the ball bouncing another way in a different game. And so far, it looks like other teams are positioned to take some of the closer games.

San Francisco (1-3)

Yeah. I got nothing. This team is spiraling off the Golden Gate Bridge, out of control, and there doesn’t seem to be much to really discuss.

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