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Rest of the NFC West, Week 17: Division to be decided in final week of season

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

All four NFC West teams won on Sunday, setting up the division’s first Week 18 with quite a bit of intrigue. Here’s what you need to know from Sunday’s divisional games.

Cardinals survive Cowboys comeback, stay alive in divisional race

With the Cardinals coming off of three straight losses, and the Cowboys having just beaten Washington 56-14, this was certainly not the game most of us expected. Thanks to a solid run-pass balance (which had been missing for so much of the second half of the year) and a first-half fake punt, the Cardinals had opened up a 22-7 lead by the third quarter. Dallas made an effort late, but Arizona held on to win 25-22.

Even though the offense performed well, it still lacked the explosive edge from the first half of this year, which Arizona seems unlikely to find the rest of this season (and postseason). The key to victory was the team’s defensive performance, which saw them limiting Dallas to just 45 rushing yards and Prescott to 226 yards passing. Arizona also remains alive in the divisional race, although they will need a win vs. Seattle next week and a Rams loss to clinch the title.

Rams get ugly win against Baltimore

Matt Stafford has looked pretty awful recently (or even Gofful, some might say). Thanks to two first-half interceptions thrown kindly into the hands of Ravens defensive back Chuck Clark, the Rams trailed early and often. A third turnover in a fumble from Stafford put the Rams in an even more precarious position, but a late comeback led by Sony Michel and a committee of receivers brought the Rams back late, securing a 20-19 victory.

Two players to keep and eye on next week against the 49ers are Von Miller and Cooper Kupp. Miller, who has had a very quiet start to his Rams tenure, had his second two-sack game of the season, and his first in L.A. Kupp, meanwhile, needs just 136 receiving yards to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record, which Megatron set in 2012. Even though many records like this are sure to be broken often in the coming years with an extra game added to the season, this is still an absurd accomplishment, and it’s my belief that Kupp belongs squarely in the middle of the MVP discussion.

49ers take care of business against Houston

In what was one of the few looks we’ve gotten at Trey Lance all season, there were mixed reviews of the offense. They sputtered at times, especially in the first half. Houston even led San Francisco 7-3 late into the third quarter. However, late in the game, the run game the 49ers worked hard to establish earlier paid dividends, as Trey Lance hit Deebo Samuel on a deep play action pass to put the 49ers up 17-7 in the fourth. The 49ers prevailed 23-7.

Overall Lance played a pretty clean game, although he did throw one interception. If Garoppolo is unable to go against the Rams, it will be out of the frying pan and into the fire for the rookie.

Standings

Los Angeles Rams - 12-4 (3-2 DIV)

Arizona Cardinals - 11-5 (4-1 DIV)

San Francisco 49ers - 9-7 (1-4 DIV)

Seattle Seahawks - 6-10 (2-3 DIV)

Next Week

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams