Around the NFC West

While the Arizona Cardinals still hold a commanding lead in the NFC West, they've dropped two consecutive games for the second time this season. This week, a win against the St Louis Rams will snap the team's recent skid and clinch Arizona's first division title since 1975. Brad Wilbricht takes a look at the Cardinals' competition within the division and breaks down their performance.

The Arizona Cardinals have struggled during their current two-game losing streak, but their troubles are modest in comparison to the rest of the NFC West. Both the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams have already reached double-digit losses with records of 2-10 while the San Francisco 49ers haven't fared much better with a record of 4-8.

San Francisco had high hopes coming into this season, but a six-game losing streak and a midseason coaching change have brought those expectations to a halt. RB Frank Gore has been extremely reliable over the past three seasons, but he's been limited to only 92 yards in his last two games. In addition, Gore has managed just 2.4 yards per carry and has failed to reach the end zone during that span.

After Mike Singletary took over as head coach in Week 8, QB Shaun Hill was named the starter over J.T. O'Sullivan. Hill has been outstanding in his five starts, throwing for over 1,400 yards and tossing 11 touchdowns. Furthermore, Hill has thrown only four interceptions and has maintained a QB rating of 94.6.

QB Matt Hasselbeck

Seattle has suffered through numerous injuries and has lacked consistency all year long. The Seahawks' once potent offense is compiling merely 257 yards per game, including just 149 yards through the air. QB Matt Hasselbeck recently returned to action but he's been sacked 19 times and has a QB rating of 57.8 on the season.

In addition to their struggles on offense, Seattle is ranked 30th in the NFL giving up 387 yards per contest. DE Patrick Kerney has missed the team's last five games, and left the Seahawks' pass rush with little remaining firepower. After totaling 14.5 sacks last season, Kerney has managed only five this year.

The Rams have been inept on both sides of the ball as they're currently ranked second to last in points scored and points allowed. St. Louis has allowed 360 points this season while they've only scored 160 points. The absence of RB Steven Jackson and the declining play of WR Torry Holt have derailed the Rams' offensive performance.

Like the 49ers, St Louis also made a midseason coaching change after firing Scott Linehan prior to Week 6. The Rams won their first two games under Jim Haslett against the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys but have gone on to lose six consecutive outings.

The Cardinals have already swept the season series against San Francisco and will look to go 6-0 in the division with remaining home games against St Louis and Seattle. The Cardinals welcome the Rams this week and host the Seahawks in Week 17.

Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at

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