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Rest of the NFC West, Week 9: When the Niners lose, we all win

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In a week which saw the Seattle Seahawks get essentially every result they could have possibly wanted in the NFC Wild Card picture, a loss from the Niners, and thus a ticket out of the cellar of the division, was perhaps the most satisfying outcome. And the Titans’ win over the Rams on Sunday Night Football was the icing on top. Let’s go through what you need to know about the three NFC West teams that competed this week.

Cardinals backups demote newly-returned Kittle, 49ers to last place in the division

It seems that Colt McCoy is simply unstoppable in road matchups against NFC West opponents. With Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and J.J. Watt all out, McCoy’s Cardinals weren’t the lock to win they would have been at full-strength, although they certainly looked like they were.

Although George Kittle returned from IR for the first time since the 49ers’ home loss to Seattle, and played well (6 receptions, 101 yards, 1 TD), the 49ers offense looked lost at times with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. It’s becoming more of a question among 49ers fans and the NFL at large whether or not Kyle Shanahan is actually the offensive mastermind he has been cast as after the Niners’ stellar 2019 campaign. The Cardinals defense had a lot to do with this discord, as Chandler Jones was disruptive all day, and was able to become the Cardinals’ all-time sacks leader in the process. Former UW Husky Budda Baker continued to shine as well and had a 4th quarter interception.

The Cardinals offense, meanwhile, straight-up embarrassed the 49ers all day, proving to simply be the tougher and stronger team in all facets, especially in the run game. James Conner looked perhaps the best he has his entire career, and Colt McCoy did a solid job managing the game en route to the 31-17 victory.

Rams’ weaknesses exposed by Titans in SNF loss

This game was a joy to watch. The Rams defense kept the Titans in check throughout, but two Matthew Stafford interceptions made all the difference for the Titans points-wise. The biggest factor was the Titans’ pass-rush, which prevented from the Rams operating their trademark quick-passing game throughout. The Seahawks will need to employ this strategy to have any decent shot at slowing down the potent Rams offense when the two teams match up later this year.

Things are more difficult now for the Rams in the divisional race, as they sit one game behind the Cardinals, who hold the tie-breaker. They’ll get a chance to improve their divisional record against San Francisco on Monday Night Football in Week 10.

Standings

Arizona Cardinals - 8-1 (3-0 DIV)

Los Angeles Rams - 7-2 (1-1 DIV)

Seattle Seahawks - 3-5 (1-1 DIV)

San Francisco 49ers - 3-5 (0-3 DIV)

Next Week

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (MNF)