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NFC West Week 2 Review

In the NFL, the most important teams to watch are those within your own division. After the dust settles on NFC West action each, week we will review and look ahead to what lies ahead for each team.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Where the St. Louis Rams completely fell on their collective faces in Week 1, they mostly redeemed themselves in an ugly week 2 victory.  When your third string quarterback is getting his first NFL start, on the road, you will take the wins any way you can get them.

The Rams did just that, using a complete team effort to take down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even their record at 1-1.  The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, the NFC West favorites, each fell victim to the underdog on Sunday.  The Arizona Cardinals jumped out to 2-0 thanks to their victory over the New York Giants, and now sit atop the division standings.

Yes, there were plenty of big plays throughout the NFC West on Sunday. So let's take a closer look at each teams Week 2 and what is on the horizon in Week 3.

Arizona Cardinals

Recap

The Cardinals managed to win on the road against the Giants in spite of Carson Palmer being out with a shoulder injury.  The Cardinals got a decent performance out of backup QB Drew Stanton, but it was really the ground game that had the offense moving.  The defense managed to collect 4 takeaways, and the special teams delivered a 71 yard punt return TD to power the Cardinals to victory.  Eli Manning and the Giants continue to find ways to give the ball away more than any other team in the NFL.  The Cardinals only managed to generate 266 yards of total offense, but they won the turnover battle in a big way as they didn't turn it over once.  Any time you can go all the way across country and get a win you have something to feel good about.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals are now 2-0 and alone atop the NFC West standings, how weird does that sound?  The Cardinals will have an opportunity to show they are a serious contender for the division title as they play host to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.  The Cardinals defense did a good job against the Giants running game, but will have a tougher task against the power running of Frank Gore and the 49ers.

San Francisco 49ers

Recap

At the end of the third quarter, holding a 20-7 lead, the 49ers looked to be in a good position to keep pace with the Cardinals in the NFC West.  Instead Colin Kaepernick turned the ball over 4 times in all, and the Chicago Bears outscored the 49ers 28-3 following the two minute warning in the first half.  Jay Cutler tossed 3 short touchdown passes in the 4th quarter to help the Bears rally back and spoil the 49ers first game in their new stadium.  The 49ers outgained the Bears by 150 yards, but the turnovers and accompanying short fields certainly contributed to the disparity.  To make matters worse for the 49ers Vernon Davis left the game with an ankle injury, leaving his status uncertain for Week 3.

Looking Ahead

The 49ers will be looking to bounce back on the road following their late game collapse on Sunday Night Football.  The team certainly doesn't want to fall to 1-2 overall and 0-1 within the NFC West.  In order for them to right the ship on the ship on the road they will have to cut back on the turnovers, which may be no small task against a Cardinals defense that's generated 5 turnovers already this season.

Seattle Seahawks

Recap

The Seahawks managed to keep it close on the scoreboard in spite of being outgained 377 - 288, and dominated in time of possession 42:15 - 17:45.  The Legion of Boom was completely dissected by Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing offense as Rivers notched a sterling 82.8 QBR and 124.2 Passer Rating.  The Chargers only managed 2.0 yards per carry on the ground, but with the Seahawks unable to slow down the passing attack or generate any turnovers the Chargers were able to spring the upset.  Russell Wilson was efficient if unspectacular posting a 29.2 QBR and a 119.1 QB Rating.  The Seahawks ground game was also largely contained, as Marshawn Lynch mustered only 36 yards on 6 carries.  A large portion of the Seahawks 108 rushing yards came on a 51 yard TD run by Percy Harvin, a play where the NFL has admitted it was incorrectly confirmed as a score after Harvin stepped out of bounds at the 21 yard line.  In all the Seahawks were mostly dominated away from the friendly confines of CenturyLink field.

Looking Ahead

The Seahawks will return home in Week 3 for a Super Bowl rematch with the Denver Broncos.  The Broncos come into the game at 2-0, with an offense that looks as good if not better than the 2013 version.  If the Seahawks struggled with Antonio Gates (3 TD receptions in Week 2) than they wont be getting much of a break as Julius Thomas (11 rec, 4 TD in 2014) comes to town.  The Broncos may also be getting Wes Welker back, as his suspension may be reduced in light of the new NFL drug policy.  The Broncos new look defense hasn't been lights out so far this season, offering more of a bend but don't break level of play.  This defense is definitely better than the 2013 version, and much healthier at this stage of the season as well.  The Seahawks could have a tough challenge in Week 3, one that may find them once again looking up in the NFC West standings.

St. Louis Rams

Recap

You know what I love about winning ugly?  It is still winning, and any win is going to smell like roses when compared to the debacle of Week 1.  The Rams used a gritty performance from the defense and special teams, and a mistake free effort from young Austin Davis at QB, to secure their first road win of the 2014 season.  Davis went 22-29 for 235 yards with no TDs or INTs for an 84.8 QBR and 99.1 QB Rating.  That includes the clutch 71-yard drive in the waning moments of the game to get into FG range and take the lead, a drive that started at the teams own 9 yard line.  The Rams running game churned out 119 yards at 4 yard per carry, and Brian Quick continued his impression of an NFL #1 receiver hauling in 7 catches for 74 yards.  While 74 yards and zero touchdowns aren't eye popping statistics, it should be noted that eye popping stats don't generally happen with a 3rd string QB, and Quick made some big plays early and often fighting for heavily contested catches.

Young GZ went 4-4 in rough and sloppy conditions, while Johnny Hekker continued to be Johnny Freaking Hekker!  If I am giving out game balls though, it would have to be to T.J. McDonald.  McDonald blocked a punt AND a FG, each of which eventually led to Rams FGs.  He also laid the vicious hit on Mike Evans which resulted in the 10 second runoff, thus depriving the Bucs of a last second game winning field goal attempt.  One shock from checking the box score, only 5 accepted penalties against the Rams.  It felt like they had 10 on the Bucs first drive alone, so a pleasant surprise in the number but those 5 penalties all proved costly as 3 of the Bucs first downs were via penalty.  The Rams defense also allowed the Bucs to churn out 157 yards rushing at 5 yards per pop, not exactly the top tier defense Rams fans were hoping for in 2014.

Looking Ahead

The Rams will be returning home to host the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.  The Rams have some pretty poor history against the Cowboys' DeMarco Murray, who happened to rush for 167 yards and a TD against the Titans in Week 2.  If the Rams are going to have a shot against the Cowboys offense, they will need to figure out a way to shore up the run defense.  The Rams secondary will have another challenge ahead of them as well, as Dez Bryant will come to town who already has 14 receptions for 158 yards and a TD in 2014.  The Rams pass D is currently 5th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed, they will need to keep it up for the Rams to have a chance to enter their bye with a winning record.  On offense, the Rams may be welcoming back Stedman Bailey, whose suspension could be reduced in light of the new NFL drug policy.  That could be a big shot in the arm for an offense that may have lost Tavon Austin to a knee injury.

Week 3 could prove to be a pivotal week in the NFC West, the Rams will need to show up in a big way at home to get over .500 heading into their bye.  Thanks for reading and as always, Go Rams!!!!