After their Thursday Night win to claim sole possession of the NFC West, the 49ers can now sit back this weekend and watch what unfolds, hoping that they remain alone at the top. As their win came against a division foe, San Francisco will hope that other two NFC West teams continue their losing ways, giving San Francisco some breathing room. It will be important for both teams to keep pace with San Francisco, as a loss could spell disaster for either team as they move forward.
Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams
After suffering a 17-14 loss at the hands of the Dolphins, the Rams now take on the Green Bay Packers. The bad news for the Rams is that they are up against a team that is starting to roll offensively after routing the previously undefeated Houston Texans 42-24. They will have to try and contain what some consider the best quarterback in the game and deal with a defense known for its big play ability St. Louis will enter the game 3-3 and a loss will not only drop them under .500, but it would give them a steep uphill climb to remain in contention for the division. However, working heavily in their favor is that they have earned wins over the Seahawks and Cardinals already and could own the tie breaker over both. For these wins to really matter though they must first keep tallying wins, and the odds are against them.
St. Louis will need to hope for an inspired performance to knock off the Packers. They will then face the Patriots, 49ers (twice), Jets and Cardinals over the next 6 games and will be lucky to have a .500 record through those games. Of course this is the NFL, and upsets continue to occur weekly, but it appears as though St. Louis’ surprise start to the season will not end on a good note. They have shown an much improved team though and are capable of winning any of their upcoming games, and by week 14, despite their overall record, it will be clear if they are legit or not.
Arizona Cardinals as Minnesota Vikings
The Cardinals are 4-2 but are coming off back to back defeats and a 3rd consecutive loss can put a damper on their season and start to shake the teams belief in themselves. To halt the losing skid they will need to slow down Adrian Peterson and the Vikings who are playing pretty well behind the emergence of quarterback Christian Ponder. Arizona can also earn some bragging rights if they can beat the same Vikings team that earlier this season upset the 49ers. The Cardinals have a ferocious defense and will need it to play big as it has all year if they hope to stay tied with San Francisco. A win over the Vikings will set up a huge Monday Night match-up between the two teams next week.
If Arizona loses though everything changes, and it makes the Monday Night Game a must win for the Cardinals. If they lose this week, and lose to the 49ers next week, they will then have to face the Patriots and Atlanta Hawks and could see their winning record quickly disappear. For the time being though they have shown that they can compete with the best in the league and could very well have the 49ers looking up at them after the two teams meet.
49er fans can root for two teams that they where cheering against earlier this year. If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers can play up to their ability then St. Louis is going to lose. The more interesting game will be the Cardinals and the Vikings as both teams are trying to make a name for themselves and have had some success this year. Arizona is a legitimate threat for the NFC West Crown so it will bode well for San Francisco if Minnesota can have the same success that they did against the 49ers. The outcome of the Cardinals and Vikings will determine who will face a must win when the 49ers and Cardinals meet next week.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.