NFC West Breakdown

Many saw the Cardinals early season success coming, but there have been some interesting developments elsewhere within the NFC West. San Francisco joins Arizona atop the standings, while Seattle is off to a relatively slow start. Brad Wilbricht checks in on the rest of the division through the first three weeks of the season.

Although the San Francisco 49ers dropped their season opener against the Cardinals, they've rebounded to win back-to-back games against Seattle and Detroit. The key to San Francisco's success has been the play of QB J.T. O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan has thrown for 705 yards and is completing 67 percent of his passes. He is currently second in the NFC with a QB Rating of 104.6, trailing only Kurt Warner who leads the league with a rating of 111.7.

RB Frank Gore continues to be a force on the ground and has rushed for 287 yards in the 49ers first three games. He's averaging nearly five yards per carry and has reached the end zone three times. In addition, Gore has been a reliable target out of the backfield catching 13 passes for 125 yards.

Wide receivers Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce have proved to be a formidable duo early in the season. Johnson, who left Arizona for the Bay Area this offseason, is second on the team with 10 catches for 151 yards. Bruce has only six receptions but has racked up 172 receiving yards. He's averaging a staggering 28.7 yards per grab.

On defense, San Francisco is allowing 292 yards per contest and leads the NFL in passing yards allowed, giving up only 161 yards. LB Patrick Willis maintains his Pro Bowl caliber play and has made 19 stops on the year. Furthermore, free-agent acquisition Justin Smith is currently second on the team with two sacks and has helped bolster the 49ers defensive line.

The Seattle Seahawks lost their first two games of the year, but finally got into the win column last week with a victory over St. Louis. The Seahawks receivers have been dropping like flies and QB Matt Hasselbeck has certainly felt the ramifications of those injuries. Hasselbeck has a QB rating of only 60.1 and has tossed three interceptions in Seattle's first three games.


RB Julius Jones
(Getty)

RB Julius Jones has been the bright spot on offense as he's compiled 312 yards on over five yards per carry. He's totaled over 125 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in each of the past two weeks. RB T.J. Duckett was brought in to be a short-yardage specialist and he's done just that. Duckett has already reached pay dirt three times on the year.

Thanks to a depleted receiving corps, Rookie TE John Carlson leads the Seahawks with 12 receptions and 168 yards. Billy McMullen and Courtney Taylor are currently the team's top two wide receivers, but Seattle does expect veteran WR Bobby Engram back on the field soon. The team also recently signed WR Koren Robinson for what will be his second stint in Seattle.

The Seahawks defense is off to a sluggish start and currently ranks 24th in the NFC allowing 226 yards per game through the air. In all, Seattle is giving up 314 yards and just under 27 points per outing. LB Leroy Hill leads the Seahawks defense with 25 tackles on the season.

Off to a dismal 0-3 start, The St. Louis Rams have been outscored by a total of 116-29. St Louis is allowing a league worst 457 yards per game and are second to last in total offense gaining only 202 yards per contest.

The Rams offensive line has been non-existent and has already allowed 11 sacks. QB Mark Bulger has had limited time in the pocket and he's limped out of the gate with a QB rating of 73.2. Bulger has been extremely accurate over the course of his career but he's completing only 58 percent of his passes this season.

RB Steven Jackson continues to find limited success on the ground. He's averaging only 3.2 yards per carry and has gained just 159 yards. St Louis has yet to score a rushing touchdown and has a long run of only 15 yards in their first three games. Jackson has managed to help in the passing game as he's reeled in 15 catches for 133 yards.

Due to the struggles of Bulger and the offensive line, the Rams receivers have been held in check as well. Jackson currently leads St Louis in receiving with WR Tory Holt checking in second with 11 grabs. However, Holt has only 122 yards receiving and is averaging 11.1 yards per catch. TE Randy McMichael is the team's next leading receiver with nine receptions for 113 yards.


Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com

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