Pro Football’s best division, the NFC West, is going to slug it out between each other this weekend when the Los Angeles Rams host the Artizna Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks visit the San Francisco 49ers.
There will be blood.
The first three weeks of regular season play has produced some interesting developments. The Kansas City Chiefs are alone in last place in the AFC West behind the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers. The Pittsburgh Steelers suffer the same fate in the AFC North, trailing the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals in that division.
In my years of studying NFL results it is always clear by season end why this team won there and that team got beat there. But, as Rickey Ricardo would often say on the I Love Lucy show, “You’ve got a lot of explannan to do,” before any of us are going to know why the Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills on opening day.
Nothing that happened during the first half of that game, where Buffalo led 10-0, or since, with the Bills beating their next two opponents by 35-0 and 43-21 scores, while the Steelers lost two straight in Pittsburgh, answers what happened to Buffalo in the second half of their opening game.
The opening loss to the Steelers got the Bills attention and their past two performances are indicative of both a motivational boost and a talented roster. All four of the NFC West teams have talented rosters, so which one has the motivational liabilities that caught Buffalo on opening day?
The 49ers lost at home on Sunday night to the Green Bay Packers and Jimmy Garoppolo has never lost two games in a row at Levi’s Stadium. Does that give San Francisco an edge over Seattle when they come to town for a Sunday meeting? It would be a more viable factor if this wasn’t also a must win game for the Seahawks. They arrive in the Bay Area on a two game losing streak, and a third loss would put their season in early jeopardy.
In other words, both the 49ers and Seahawks are in a position from both a motivational and situational perspective to win, and while the better talent lies with the 49ers, the favorite role makes giving three points high risk in this spot.
Onto the other NFC battle, where the Rams, fresh off their victory over the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, host the Arizona Cardinals. Both these teams come into this game with perfect 3-0 records, and most assume it will be the arguably more talented Rams that will survive to at least fifth week action without a straight-up loss.
I question that assumption. It is way too logical and will only serve to motivate the underdog Cardinals who themselves don’t really expect their record to bloat to 4-0 while dropping the Rams to 3-1.
The Rams may be the best team in football, and if they are, they win here. But to cover the six point spread against a more motivated Cardinals team would have to take a team that would be amongst the best to ever play.
If the Rams are great, they win here but don’t cover the point spread. If they lose, don’t hold it against them. But if they win, if they win and cover a bloated line against an undefeated team coming off their biggest win of the season then the Rams are very, very special, and I lose a bet.
Qoxhi Picks: Arizona Cardinals (+6) over Los Angeles Rams