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Friday, September 12, 2008

NFC West Week 2 Preview

Week 1:

Season: 3-0

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Seattle swept the season series from the Niners last year by a combined score of 47-3, but that was last year. Despite losing quarterback Alex Smith for the season with a torn rotator cuff, the news is even worse for the Seahawks. Down to one healthy, experienced wide receiver heading into week one, the Hawks lost Nate Burleson on the opening drive against Buffalo with a torn ACL in his left knee. The receiving situation is so desperate, the Hawks are considering starting backup quarterback Seneca Wallace at split end. With two second year WR in line to start, and a rookie tight end as well, QB Matt Hasselbeck will need to be on his game for the Hawks to prevail.

On the other side of the ball, Niners RB Frank Gore averages more than six yards per carry during his career against Seattle, with QB J.T. O'Sullivan again being asked to manage the clock and to avoid turnovers if at all possible.
Prediction: The Hawks injuries on offense are just too much to overcome, and Hasselbeck can't do it all himself, especially considering he isn't at 100% himself. If O'Sullivan can manage to avoid multiple turnovers, and if Gore can match his career averages against Seattle, I can't see them winning.

Prediction: 49ers, 17-13.

New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams

The Rams suffered a big loss on offense last week, WR Drew Bennett will miss at least a month with a broken foot. RB Steven Jackson should be in better shape than last week, although he is still not 100% after missing training camp and the pre-season following a hold-out. The Rams offensive line is its weakest link, the Giants should have little trouble pressuring QB Marc Bulger, putting even more pressure on Jackson.

The Giants offensive line, on the other hand, is a strength, they should have no trouble driving the Rams DLine off the ball, opening large holes for the Giants backs. QB Eli Manning should be aware of a potential mismatch between 6'6" Plaxico Burress and 5'9" Rams cornerback Tye Hill.

Prediction: Giants big, 38-13.

Miami @ Arizona

Here's a stat for you, in the third quarter of last week's opener at San Francisco, the Cardinals time of possession in the third quarter was 13:17. After a shaky first half which ended in a 10 all tie, QB Kurt Warner settled in and executed Coach Ken Whisenhunt 's short pass offense to perfection. In the first half, Anquan Boldin had zero catches, Larry Fitzgerald had seven. In the second half, after a 49ers adjustment, Boldin caught eight balls, with Fitzgerald grabbing three. Expect more of the same against Miami, as their secondary lacks a dominant, shutdown cover guy, which should result in Boldin and Fitzgerald once again approaching double digit catches apiece.

Falling behind early is what the Dolphins would like to avoid, as they are a run dominant team, led by Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Last week against the Jets, they combined for 23 carries, the Dolphs would like to see them approach forty combined carries.

Prediction: The Cardinals, behind the ever-confident Kurt Warner and the unstoppable duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald win comfortably, 27-10.

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