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Rest of the NFC West, Week 5: At least the 49ers lost (again)

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the NFC West was locked in interdivisional matchups, and the two best teams in the division won their respective games as the standings begin to take shape. Here’s what you need to know about the takeaways from this week’s games.

Rams offense dominates Seattle, but their defense shows weaknesses in Thursday night win

Coming into this season, it was expected that the Rams defense would be the dominant force that would lead to many of their wins. However, so far, the best unit has been the offense, as Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp are off to a flying start. The Rams torched Seattle over the middle Thursday night, as we all know, and Stafford showed how effective he can be in McVay’s offense in what may have been his best performance so far this season. In many ways, the offense hasn’t been quite the same since the departure of Todd Gurley, but Darrell Henderson is showing that he can provide an outlet in the passing game in a way that Cam Akers can’t quite do as well, which makes the Rams offense just that much more dangerous.

The defense meanwhile, was good, but not great. Beyond Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, there continue to be questions, and the Seahawks were able to exploit the Rams in the passing game at times. Rams fans will be especially furious about the show Geno Smith was able to put on in the second half, and that sort of showing would make me nervous if I was a Rams fan, although certainly not as panicked as Seahawks fans should be about their secondary.

Cardinals grind out 17-10 win over first-time starter Lance, 49ers in brutal divisional game

The Cardinals’ fifth consecutive win to start out the season wasn’t the shootout that their other wins have been, as the 49ers were able to keep Kyler Murray in check on the ground and in the air for much of the game. The Cardinals defense was the dominant force, as Zach Allen and the Cardinals defensive line caused problems for the 49ers all day. Budda Baker came up with an easy interception of Trey Lance, too, but he wasn’t able to take it to the house for a pick-6 (not that he knows anything about that).

Speaking of Lance, the rookie QB was flat out bad in the passing game. Barely completing over 50 percent of his passes and throwing a bad interception on an overthrow in the first quarter, Lance did much of his damage on the ground, with 16 carries for 89 yards. I was a bit surprised that Lance ran so much, and that Kyle Shanahan seemed willing to let the potential franchise quarterback put himself in harms way, but he is clearly a threat on the ground. To develop into a true dual threat, though, and one that I would genuinely be concerned about, he will need to drastically improve his accuracy. For now, Lance remains the worst current starting quarterback in the division (yes, Geno Smith is third in my book).

Standings

Arizona Cardinals - 5-0 (2-0 DIV)

Los Angeles Rams - 4-1 (1-1 DIV)

Seattle Seahawks - 2-3 (1-1 DIV)

San Francisco 49ers - 2-3 (0-2 DIV)

Next week

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns

San Francisco 49ers in BYE week