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The Lookaround: Cardinals build 3-game lead in NFC West, 2-game lead for top seed

Arizona faced perhaps their toughest test of the year so far -- Not beating themselves -- and didn't blow it.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes you can win, but you don't. On Sunday the Seahawks could have won, but they didn't. They could win the Super Bowl ... but they won't.

I don't proclaim a "sky fall" based on Seattle's 24-20 loss to the Chiefs, but the way in which they lost, which highlights a lack of either an elite defense without Brandon Mebane or an elite offense without a true threat at receiver or tight end. If Mebane and Zach Miller were coming back at some point, then maybe, but since that isn't happening I don't see how the Seahawks are going to be great enough on defense to hold teams under 20 points consistently like they need to.

Now five of the next six games take place against NFC West teams and if Seattle somehow managed to win those games, they'd win the division. So there is a certain amount of destiny control there, but that seems highly unlikely. The rest of the division came away with wins this week and the shore of good hope only gets further away.

Let's look around.

- Arizona seemed to be caught in a vicious cycle of them punting and the Lions turning it over, but eventually they sealed a 14-6 win over a first place team and are now in a dominating position in the NFC. The Cardinals move to 9-1 and hold a three game lead in the division, as well as a two game lead to get the top seed in the conference.

I wouldn't say that Drew Stanton was unfazed in his first start in place of Carson Palmer, he was certainly fazed a little bit after throwing two interceptions, but he also had 306 yards, 9.6 Y/A, and two touchdowns. Bruce Arians was unafraid to keep moving the ball down the field with the passing game, taking shots to Michael Floyd and coming away with some big wins on those passes.

Floyd, having a tough sophomore season, had two catches for 54 yards, both went for touchdowns. Rookie John Brown, who went in the third round (after guys like Paul Richardson) had five catches for 69 yards. Brown now has 468 yards on the season.

Doug Baldwin is Seattle's leading receiver, with 485 yards.

When I look at Arizona's roster, I don't see a lot of "stars" and so it's hard to understand why they're in this position sometimes. But then again, maybe they're just not stars yet.

Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson draw attention away from teammates (probably for the better) so we may not notice that Deone Bucannon, Antonio Cromartie, Rashad Johnson, and Tony Jefferson may all be better secondary players than Honeybadger and PP right now.

Which only highlights the fact that holy fuck the Cardinals have six really good defensive backs.

The Packers are going to be everyone's favorite team tomorrow, but if they face Arizona in the playoffs, Aaron Rodgers may not have such a great day. Especially if he has to leave Lambeau to do it, and it's looking like Arizona could make that happen within the next few weeks.

The Cards travel to Seattle this week and then off to the suddenly-first Falcons in Atlanta. They'll host the Chiefs, then go to St. Louis, back at home for a re-match with the Hawks, then finally off to San Francisco for the finale. Definitely not an easy schedule, but who is playing better?

- The Rams continue to confound. Over the last five weeks they've beaten the Seahawks, 49ers, and now the Broncos after an easy 22-7 win at home. Yet in their other two games over the period of time they were blown out by the Chiefs and Cardinals. Now at 4-6, St. Louis would probably need to win out to have any shot at the playoffs.

That won't happen, but they have proven that they can beat anyone in the NFL. At this point, I don't think I would feel as confidence saying that about Seattle. But I think Seattle has a much lower chance of ever finding themselves at the wrong end of a blowout, so there's that.

Shaun Hill made his first start since the benching of Austin Davis and was 20-of-29 for 220 yards and a touchdown. Hill was almost immediately pulled from duty at the start of the year and I'm sure some people will wonder how different things could be if Jeff Fisher had given him a little more patience but Davis also played really well at times.

Tre Mason rushed for a career-high 113 yards.

Receiver having a better day than anyone on Seattle: Veteran Kenny Britt finally had a big game for the first time since 2012 when he was with the Titans. Britt caught four passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. He had 96 yards all of last season.

Meanwhile, Denver's been blown out in two of their last three games, making the Seahawks win over them look a little less impressive. Conversely, it makes their loss to St. Louis a little more bearable?

- Eli Manning did everything he could to give the 49ers an easy win, but it was still a very close game despite his five interceptions and San Francisco won 16-10. Aldon Smith returned from his nine game suspension and recorded two QB hits but nothing else of note, as far as I'm aware.

While we focus on Russell Wilson here in Seattle, Colin Kaepernick is having his own run of mediocrity lately. He was just 15-of-29 for 193 yards and one touchdown in the win. It's his fourth straight game with a Y/A under seven and his passer rating of 84.4 is almost identical to the rating he's had over the previous three games: 84.2. He ran for 25 yards and hasn't crossed the 50-yard rushing mark since Week 4.

Receiver having a better day than anyone on Seattle: Michael Crabtree had a season-high 85 yards on three catches. He gained 48 yards on one of his catches. Doug Baldwin had 45 yards total.

- The Packers lost the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Seahawks but a better tiebreaker? Winning more games than the other team! Green Bay moved to 7-3 after dominating the Eagles 53-20 which also happens to knock Philly down to 7-3 and in a tie for first with the Dallas Cowboys, who are on a bye.

Seattle and Philadelphia play each other in Week 14. Of course, the Seahawks already lost to the Cowboys, so that's not a head-to-head they would win.

The important thing to remember about the Packers -- something many will forget after two dominating wins in a row -- is that they were blown out by the Saints only three weeks ago. They also lost by 20 to Seattle and 12 to Detroit. The Packers play the Vikings next week, then face the Patriots.

Packers receiver having a better day: Name one.

Here's my current power ranking of teams I would worry about in a wild card race:

1. Loser of NFC North between Lions and Packers

2. 49ers

3. Loser of NFC East

At least two of these teams will miss the playoffs: Seahawks, Lions, Packers, 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys. The reason I am less worried about the East is that if they beat the Eagles, they'll have the tiebreaker and will also push them further down the East and give Dallas a better chance to win their division outright.

- In "Que? QUE QUE?" News of the Day:

The Falcons, a team that had two wins as of November 8, beat the Panthers 19-17 and are now 4-6 and in first place.


The Buccaneers beat the Redskins 27-7 to improve to 2-8. They are two games back of first place in the NFC South.


So even though Mike Smith was all but fired about a week ago, he and the Atlanta Falcons might need to represent the league's wort division in the playoffs first. That is unless Tampa Bay can make the most unlikeliest playoff run in NFL history; The Bucs have already been swept by Atlanta, so they'd need to make up a three-game difference and jump over the Saints too, but technically the division is still wide open.

Re-Hawks (A look at some former Seahawks:

- David Hawthorne, Saints: 7 tackles and one TFL

- Clint McDonald, Bucs: 4 tackles, a sack, and two QB hits

- Golden Tate, Lions: 2 catches, 41 yards, one carry, 8 yards

- John Carlson, Cardinals: 3 catches, 37 yards

- Matt Flynn, Packers: Played!