Throughout the 2018 NFL season we will be keeping close tabs on the rest of the NFC West, with attention obviously focused on the Los Angeles Rams, heavy favorites to win the division and clear-cut Super Bowl contenders. This week, the Rams were really the only NFC West team expected to win their opening game, and that’s exactly what happened. In fact, they were the only one in the division to average at least six yards per offensive play. Here’s a rundown of how the Seattle Seahawks’ rivals fared.
Los Angeles Rams 33 Oakland Raiders 13
The Oakland Coliseum was rocking, Jon Gruden was back, Marshawn Lynch was literally dragging John Johnson III like a little child on his way to a touchdown against that vaunted Rams defense. Jared Goff spent most of the game with a sub-50% completion percentage despite the Raiders pass rush giving Goff no less than 4 hours to throw on any given snap. It was competitive football! Could the Raiders pull off the upset?
Narrator: No, they couldn’t.
Wade Phillips made the key defensive adjustments after the Rams basically refused to cover Jared Cook for an entire half. This totally flummoxed Derek Carr, and the Raiders were outscored 23-0 in the final 30 minutes, as Todd Gurley eclipsed the 100-yard mark, Cooper Kupp caught a touchdown, and Marcus Peters did the Marshawn Lynch crotch grab celebration for the game-sealing pick-six.
Also, this is one of the worst interceptions I’ve ever seen.
$125 million for that guy? Okay!
Minnesota Vikings 24 San Francisco 49ers 16
Jimmy Garoppolo won his first seven starts as an NFL quarterback, but he would not win his eighth. The 49ers supposed savior went just 15/33 for 261 yards, 1 touchdown, and a trio of interceptions (including a game-changing pick-six) against the masterful Vikings defense. San Francisco had four turnovers overall, with Alfred Morris fumbling at the goal-line as the Niners looked to tie things up at 10-10. Let’s not totally laugh up the 49ers’ losing effort, as they wasted quite a number of opportunities, with George Kittle’s brutal drop on a potential touchdown immediately preceding Jimmy G’s touchdown to Mike Hughes. Reckless play led to a 24-6 hole, and they weren’t quite able to recover.
Kirk Cousins threw for a pair of touchdowns in his Vikings debut, while the star on Minnesota’s defense was former Seahawk Sheldon Richardson, who forced the pressure on Garoppolo on the game-ending INT to Harrison Smith.
Sheldon Richardson yesterday:— Nick Olson (@NicholasJOlson) September 10, 2018
• Half a sack
• Two run stops
• Three QB hits
• Seven total pressures (leads all DTs)
• Third-best PFF grade among DTs, behind only Fletcher Cox and Linval Joseph pic.twitter.com/zJ2JmnRbG2
As for the 49ers defense, Richard Sherman recovered a Dalvin Cook fumble, and was seemingly not targeted very often, but Stefon Diggs did do him dirty on this play.
Washington 24 Arizona Cardinals 6
Steve Wilks was among seven new head coaching hires this past offseason. None of those coaches won on opening day. Taking over for Bruce Arians, Wilks oversaw a Cardinals group that could not have looked much worse at home against Alex Smith and Washington. Perhaps most embarrassing was the normally stout defense getting absolutely lit up for 182 yards rushing, plus allowing a 96-year-old Adrian Peterson to rack up 166 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Smith was extremely efficient in Jay Gruden’s offense, completing 21/30 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In case you’re wondering, Paul Richardson had 4 catches for 22 yards on a half-dozen targets.
As for Arizona’s offense? Sam Bradford averaged 4.5 yards per attempt and committed two turnovers. David Johnson got a garbage time score to spare the Cards from being the only team shutout on opening day. 213 total yards is decidedly bad. The Cardinals are destined to be among the worst in the NFL.
NFC West Standings
Rams (1-0, 0-0 div)
Seahawks (0-1, 0-0 div)
49ers (0-1, 0-0 div)
Cardinals (0-1, 0-0 div)
Next Week’s Schedule
Seahawks at Bears (5:15 PM PT, ESPN’s Monday Night Football)
Cardinals at Rams (1:05 PM PT, FOX)
Lions at 49ers (1:05 PM PT, FOX)