Behind Enemy Lines – The NFC Worst?

With only one team in the division winning within the division no team is above .500 in what is shaping up to be the worst division in the NFL.

Arizona – To observers inside and outside of the organization, head coach Dennis Green has made a huge error in the way he has handled third-year QB Josh McCown.

McCown struggled with turnovers in the red zone early in the season and was benched in favor of veteran Shaun King. After King failed to ignite a spark in the Cardinals offense, McCown was handed the keys to the team and played better in the middle part of the season. Last week, against the Detroit Lions rookie QB John Navarre got the start and proceeded to break the ring finger on his right hand.

With Navarre out for up to three weeks, McCown will most likely finish the season as the starter.

McCown is a mobile quarterback who has an above-average arm and by all accounts, good leadership skills.

Green's quick hook has killed his confidence and it remains to be seen whether or not McCown will get it back. On the season McCown has completed 56.7% of his passes for 1,554 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.

"When you lose three in a row, it's tough, and a win is always the cure-all for that week," McCown said. "It always makes everybody feel better, so that's what I'm focused on."

Over the final four weeks of the season, McCown will have his full complement of pass receivers to throw to.

Second-year wideout Anquan Boldin is finally getting back into playing shape after missing the first six games of the season with a knee injury. In the six games he has played he has caught 33 passes for 328 yards. He doesn't have a touchdown, but he has drawn attention away from rookie Larry Fitzgerald, who is the team's big-play man on the outside. Fitzgerald leads the team with 43 receptions for 590 yards and four interceptions.

With the full complement of receivers the Cardinals should get a good idea whether McCown is their quarterback for the foreseeable future or whether the team needs to look into free agency or the draft to find its starter.

Last week's 26-12 loss to the Lions secured the Cardinals' 19th losing season in the last 20 years…Yikes!!!

Next Game: vs. San Francisco, December 12th

San Francisco – With four games remaining and no end in sight to their dismal play, the Niners appear headed to first selection in next April's NFL Draft.

Some observers think the Niners should trade the selection if they get it. With multiple holes to fill and little-to-no cash available to spend on free agents, the thinking is that by trading the selection the team could acquire more selections to improve the overall athleticism on the team.

Others think they should keep the selection and select the best player available (likely USC QB Matt Leinart, Texas RB Cedric Benson or California QB Aaron Rodgers). Defensively this team has some talent, but offensively they cannot keep pace with teams and a dynamic player, selected early could be a difference maker.

Second-year wideout Brandon Lloyd has been a disappointment so far this season. Many expected him to become a solid starter, but he hasn't displayed the ability to make the big-play, something sorely lacking in the anemic Niner offense. Lloyd ranks third on the team with 35 receptions for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Coaches have grown weary of his freelancing and word is he needs to change his attitude very soon.

One player who sees good things in the future for the 49ers receiver corps is veteran WR Curtis Conway.

"I definitely want to stick around," Conway said. "I still have a couple of good years left in me. This season I signed with the team late and missed the minicamp and had to learn the system on the run. It was hard just getting comfortable. I would like to come back and go through a full camp."

Conway also singled out rookie WRs Rashaun Woods and Derrick Hamilton as more evidence that the unit is almost ready to take off.

"I see a lot of potential in both those guys," Conway stated. "I've actually seen them both make real progress in just the last four weeks. Once they fully understand the system and start to pick up the little things, they'll be OK."

Next Game: @ Arizona, December 12th

St. Louis – It's a good thing that RB Steven Jackson fell to the Rams in the draft. Veteran RB Marshall Faulk has really started to slow down in his 11th season.

Against the Packers in a loss, Jackson carried more than Faulk for the first time this season and against San Francisco this last Sunday, Jackson got the start and carried the ball 26 times for 119 yards and also caught three passes for another 21 yards.

Faulk who is now 31, had played in every game this season through week 13, his longest string of consecutive starts since his first season with the Rams in 1999.

Even though he and Jackson have both taken a back seat to the Rams' high-octane passing game, Faulk was still on pace for his heaviest workload since 2001. Head coach Mike Martz even admitted, ""probably played him more than we should have."

Another player showing signs of wear and tear is S Aeneas Williams.

Against the Packers, Williams aggravated a neck and shoulder injury that had been bothering him since training camp and it is very likely he could see reduced time. The starting free safety against San Francisco was backup CB Antuan Edwards, who impressed Rams coaches with his debut performance in Green Bay (eight tackles and a forced fumble).

Williams was the starting free safety versus the Packers, but the previous two weeks the Rams started Rich Coady at free safety and relegated Williams to a nickel role in the hopes of preserving his body.

Next Game: @ Carolina, December 12th

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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