NFL Week 4 NFC West: Welcome To Bizarro World

Coach Jim Harbaugh and the much beleaguered Alex Smith have enjoyed a good first quarter of the 2011 season.

What else would you expect from the NFC West?? After all this is the division that had a worst to first scenario in sending the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. They had the worst record ever to qualify for that game and came within 3 minutes of winning it. Then you had the worst to first 2010 division champion Seattle Seahaws. They became the first team in NFL history with a losing record and make the playoffs. What did they do for an encore?? Promptly upset the Super Bowl champion Saints in a wild wild card game 41-36. Why are we bringing it up?? This wacky division is at it again.

Enter the San Francisco 49ers. A team that struggled to find itself under Coach Singletary is suddenly, the scrourge of the division under new commander Jim Harbaugh.  A division where many pundits pointed to St Louis as the best the NFC West had to offer are having to reevaluate. At 3-1 this team has shown flash in being able to move the football.  Alex Smith…who?? Alex Smith has completed 67.7% of his passes for 795 yards  4TDs and only 1 interception. Serious get off the floor those are his real stats. In Harbaugh he got what he desperately needed, a quarterback coach.

The cavalcade of Alex Smith detractors have fallen silent. Of course the season is still young however this team is moving in a direction and a purpose not seen by the bay since Steve Marriucci.

Funny how once you start drinking a winning elixir everyone starts to fly right. Haven’t heard a peep out of Frank Gore about being traded now have we??  He’s rushed for 275 yards so far but his 3.7 yard average needs to improve. They just upset the “Dream Team’ Eagles, who were desperate for a win, 24-23 last Sunday, to move to a 3-1 record. Many folks scoffed that they didn’t play anyone after a week 3 13-8 win in Cincinnati. Until you realize that the number 1 defense in the NFL belongs to those Bengals. Yet what is important is San Fran has been packing a defense also. Right now they are in the middle of the pack at #17, and this team is scrappy and not beating itself. They take on an aspiring heavyweight contender when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. Two 3-1 teams putting the recent past behind them…who ya’ got??  OK, reserve giving your answer for the end of the week. As for the standings…

San Francisco 3 1 0 .750 1-1-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 94 75 +19 Won 2
Seattle 1 3 0 .250 1-1-0 0-2-0 1-1-0 1-2-0 58 97 -39 Lost 1
Arizona 1 3 0 .250 1-1-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 1-3-0 86 87 -1 Lost 3
St. Louis 0 4 0 .000 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-3-0 46 113 -67 Lost 4

Cardinal signal caller has had a moderate start, yet 3/4ths of the season left, he could get hot.

Now why was this division article entitled bizarro world?? Well most of us so called experts had the complete inverse of these standings as our final predictions. Kolb in Arizona was going to bring the long ball back to the desert. He and Larry Fitzgerald were going to bring the offense the glory left behind in the 2008  & 2009 seasons. Now if only Beanie Wells could stay healthy…uh see what we mean?? Right now Chris “Beanie” Wells has rushed for 321 yards and 5 TDs and is averaging a robust 5.4 yards per carry. Its not that Kolb has underwhelmed, teams are covering his only legitimate threat in Fitzgerald. He’s had to check down or throw the ball away. His stats look just like those that got him “Wally Pipp-ed” by Vick in Philadelphia. That withstanding he is still over 200 yards per game with 1,049 yet he’s thrown 5TDs and 4 ints.

Right now this team is suffering from glaring losses in Steve Breaston and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Breaston to help stretch the field and Cromartie to help out their 24th against the pass rating. Asking rookie CB Patrick Peterson to come in and be a Deion clone was foolish without a mentor. Right now he has 1 int, only 3 passes defensed yet leads the team in tackles with 18. What does that mean?? He’s getting burnt as a rookie yet makes sure to tackle the receiver once the ball is caught. Right now they aren’t forcing any turnovers out of their opponents and are a -6 in the turnover ratio or they might be 3-1 or 2-2. With their upcoming game with the Minnesota Vikings, this could be just what the doctor ordered for a tired pass defense. Funny that’s what Minnesota is saying about Arizona’s pass defense for the betterment of their team’s offensive psyche. If they can get to their bye week at 2-3 they can get back in the race.

The St Louis Rams have been sabotaged by injuries with Stephen Jackson missing several games and thrusting all the pressure on Sam Bradford. With the threat of the run, defenses underestimated Bradford last year and he lit them up. This year he’s been under fire with Cadillac Williams unable to sustain a consistent ground game. Williams is the type of back who’ll gain 0, -1, 1, then a 10 yard burst. So the average looks good but 3 drives like that and they don’t score yet it seems like he’s effective stat wise. However with Jackson back, they fell behind 17-0 to the Redskins and tried to play catch up with an an undermanned receiving corp. The Rams defense isn’t getting any rest during games and they’re getting pushed around. Last week they got shoved off the ball from the get go as the Redskins amassed 196 yards rushing. Not the recipe when you have a big back and downhill runner in Jackson. They need this bye week as they take on the champion Packers upon they’re return. Their season could teeter on that one football game. An upset there to build their confidence could fuel a resurgence. They haven’t played any of their division rivals yet either. We know they are 0-4, yet we remember when an 0-3 Buffalo Bills team in ’98 made the playoffs that same year. The ’92 Chargers started out 0-4 and won a division title back when there was a 5 team division. So it can be done. Can they summon up the strength for that game against Aaron Rodgers & company with two weeks rest??

See what we mean?? If the Rams can turn the tide and get back in the NFC West race, it’s Bizarro World all over again measuring against the first quarter of the season.

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