NFC West recap, week fourteen

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Three winners and a loser, how this plays into the final three games.

Still ahead of the pack, the San Francisco 49ers are sticking with Colin Kaepernick, leaving Alex Smith out in the cold. However, the results have worked. Last week, Kaepernick was effective in both the passing and ground game, adding a deeper wrinkle to the mobile QB craze. Additionally, this young QB benefits from an effective game thanks in large part to Frank Gore.

On the flip side, the 49ers are as stout as they come on defense, and this helps the young QB as well. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman continue to perform at a peak level and young OLB Aldon Smith is racking up sacks.

Overall, this 49ers team is a great team, and should be for years to come. Expect the away game at the Seattle Seahawks to determine the division leader once the 2012 season is all settled.

Just behind the 49ers are the red hot Seahawks, but if you're an Arizona Cardinals fan you already know how red hot they are, thanks in part to the 58 - 0 drubbing the Seahawks handed out yesterday. Rookie QB Russell Wilson has people talking about him in the rookie of the year talks. RB Marshawn Lynch continues to put up beast mode numbers, and is rewarded with Skittles aplenty. Yesterday he punched the ball into the end zone three times.

Defensively, the front seven of Seattle eats up the running game and the secondary is big, physical, and as evidenced in yesterday's performance are capable of ball hawking.

Final analysis; a hard playing team with an impressive rookie at the helm, look for them to be in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season, and perhaps beyond.

In third place and playing inspired football for coach Jeff Fischer are the St. Louis Rams. These Rams, at 6 - 6 -1 on the year are also in the playoff talks, and they kept that talk alive by coming from behind to beat the Buffalo Bills yesterday. Sam Bradford wasn't perfect, but at the end of the day he helped pull out a W. Steven Jackson continues to get it done rushing the ball, adding 64 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Rams are agressive and hard nosed, ratcheting up the pressure and sacking QB Ryan Fitzpatrick five times. Rookie Michael Brockers contributing 1.5 of them. The defense also forced a pair of fumbles.

I like how Fischer has the Rams playing, but they face some stiff competition when the Minessota Vikings come to town, and then the Rams visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seahawks. I expect them to be in these games until the end, but putting a W on each of them isn’t likely.

Last and certainly least are the plummeting Cardinals. Yesterday they played football so poorly, it hadn’t been done since WW2. 58 – 0, the Seahawks laid the wood to a team that has lost 9 in a row.

Offensively there is nothing to talk about, with three games left, I don’t expect anything from this unit at all. There is no run game. There is no pass game. There is no hope.

Defensively the Cardinals could be a good team, but they have now reached the point where frustration and overuse have sapped them of their wills to compete.

The Cardinals will finish last in the division, and perhaps even last in the league. I see a major restructuring of the coaching staff and front office. Players should by now realize they are playing for a spot next year. And just think, there is next year…

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