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The Lookaround: 49ers stay alive in NFC playoff hunt

Plus the Seahawks dispatch the Texans and the Cardinals struggle at home against the Rams

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Los Angeles Rams picked up a HUGE 30-23 win against the Arizona Cardinals Monday night to bring themselves within one game in the NFC West. This wasn’t the only divisional action going on this weekend as the Seahawks destroyed the Texans and the 49ers kept pace in a tight NFC playoff picture with an overtime win over the Bengals.

Seahawks give Houston a major problem in win

Everyone who has followed the NFL to some degree this season already knows what a suck show the Houston Texans are. I likely didn’t need a sentence explaining that but I had to have some kind of introduction to the Seahawks’ 33-13 domination of the Texans.

Russell Wilson is the emperor who seems to be getting his groove back. Points to any Disney fan who recognizes that reference. Wilson finished the game 17-of-28 for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns, ending with a 115.2 passer rating. Tyler Lockett was his leading pass catcher while snagging five catches for 142 yards and this touchdown:

I don’t usually have many nice things to say about the Seahawks as readers have likely discovered by now, but Lockett is such a criminally underrated receiver. He’s one of the best receivers that almost no one talks about. I can’t fathom why an organization refuses to listen more to a guy who makes catches like this:

This week’s weirdest-breakout-performance-that-literally-no-one-saw-coming-except-Biff-from-Back-to-the-Future award (there really should be a shorter name for that award) goes to running back Rashaad Penny. The former first-rounder, who decided he didn’t want to look like a major bust for at least one week, carried the ball 16 times for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His first score must’ve had Seahawks management wonder aloud where the heck this has been the entirety of his career:

Maybe this one too:

Imagine how good he would’ve been had he been healthy throughout the early goings of his career. Better late than never I suppose. Another nice thing (tis the season) I can say about the Seahawks is Bobby Wagner. That’s it...just Bobby Wagner appreciation. He continues to be a defensive force even though he’s a huge mayo hater:

Next Week: The Seahawks will take a little trip to Hollywood and probably get their butts handed to them by the Rams. LA has pretty much had the Hawks number during the Sean McVay era. However, Seattle under Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are like the monster in a horror movie that just won’t die, no matter how many times it’s been charred alive with a flamethrower. (Something like that has happened in a horror movie, right?)

49ers show their stripes in overtime win against Bengals

The San Francisco 49ers got the significant win they desperately needed to remain in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt by beating the Bengals 26-23 in overtime. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who has been turning in solid work at the office the last several weeks kept the Niners alive in finishing 27-of-41 for 296 yards and two touchdowns.

Leading pass catcher Deebo Samuel returned from his one-game absence by making his presence most known on the ground, toting the rock eight times for 37 yards and this electrifying 27-yard scamper:

George Kittle had yet another monster afternoon by catching 13 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. The last two games for Kittle have been shredding defenses alive and winning fantasy matchups. So, thank you again George, I’ll send you something extra special for Christmas as long as it isn’t Lombardi Trophy-related. Anyways, this has been the production he’s been putting up:

For you non-math geeks out there, and I can’t believe I used a calculator without having a rage fit, that’s 22 passes caught for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Crazy, but he wasn’t the only hero on that majestic Cincinnati battleground. Brandon Aiyuk caught six passes of his own for 62 yards and the game-winning acrobatic tippy-toe touchdown to end overtime:

I would say he’s finally out of Shanahan’s dog house at the moment. Defensively, Nick Bosa recorded two sacks on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to bring his total to 14 on the year, currently third in the NFL. Considering his strong Comeback Player of the Year case, how come he isn’t getting more attention for DPOY? For anyone in an arguing mood, look at what he’s done so far in 2021 and try to tell me why he doesn’t belong in the conversation:

Next Week: The Niners will play host to the Falcons in the Kyle Shanahan choking bowl. San Fran will look to continue their push for a playoff spot while the Falcons will try not go down 28-3 at some point in the game. Gosh, those jokes will never get old.

Cardinals struggle at home in loss to the Rams

In the spirit of Dorothy near the end of The Wizard of Oz as she clanked her ruby slippers together, Arizona did the same with their ruby cleats Monday night against the Rams wishing they were anywhere but their home stadium. There must not be a place like home in the eyes of the Cardinals. Arizona is 10-3 on the season with all three of their losses coming at home. Home-field advantage is what they hope isn’t in their Cards come playoff time.

One source of their struggles was Kyler Murray, who put up strong stats that’ll show up in the box score. Murray went 32-of-49 for 383 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions while also accounting for 61 rushing yards on seven scrambles. The combination of yards was a career-high and the highest total without touchdowns of any kind since his opponent on the opposite sideline:

A.J. Green led the team in receptions with seven for 102 yards. One of the few bright spots for the team was running back James Conner who carried the ball 13 times for 31 yards and two scores, including this one to tie it right before the half:

Conner was the Cardinals’ second-leading receiver after Green, snagging nine passes for 94 yards, including this OBJ-like one-handed catch:

That was a nice little catch James, but let’s just say Odell did it better back in the day. I think this game demonstrated that the Rams are still an talented team even if they were without numerous contributors. Maybe the Rams should play short-handed all the time instead of going out and making all these blockbuster trades. I’m kidding of course. While I admit I was hard on Los Angeles for not really beating anyone and being a pretender (both of which were fair assessments at the time), I’m not going to apologize because I’m waiting to see whether LA can keep this up. Monday was a brilliant way of getting me to consider changing my mind.

Next Week: The Cardinals fly up to Motown in a matchup against the Lions. Following Monday night’s brutal home loss to the Rams, the Redbirds will want to take out their frustrations on someone. Detroit will be their punching bag this time. Are we sure it’s going to be just the Lions biting kneecaps this week?