In Week 10, all four NFC West teams will be squaring off against divisional opponents. The Cardinals (3-5), of course, draw the Seahawks (4-4) in Arizona. The Rams (4-4) will travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers (2-6). The outcome of these two games could determine quite a bit for the division in the coming weeks.
We’ve already discussed the implications this game holds for the Cardinals, which aren’t hard to determine. To recap quickly, Arizona can ill afford to drop to 3-6, which would mean that Seattle holds a 2-game lead over the Cardinals. With just seven games left to play, it would be quite difficult to crawl back to .500 after being 1.5 games below that mark. The Cardinals would have to win five of their remaining seven games just to pull back to .500 at the end of the season, which may not be good enough anyway if the Seahawks or Rams make it to 9-7. After a Week 10 loss, there would be no reason to think Arizona would suddenly turn things around after losing four straight games. Needless to say, the Cardinals must have this one against the Seahawks.
Looking at the other match up this week, the 49ers and Rams make for an interesting situation. From Arizona’s perspective, it would be immediately beneficial for San Francisco to defeat St. Louis because if the Cards beat the Hawks, it would bring Arizona to a three-way tie for first place with the Seahawks and the Rams. It would also mean, though, that the 49ers move to 3-6 with seven games left on the schedule. In order for San Francisco to be relevant, they would presumably have to improve to at least 8-8 to finish the season. This means they’d have to win five of their last seven; a tall order for any team, but the 49ers have quietly won two of their last three games. New starting quarterback Troy Smith has apparently given the 49ers a reason to believe again. You never know.
If the Rams and Seahawks both win, they would both move to 5-4, likely making the rest of the season a two-horse race. I don’t think anyone predicted those two horses battling it out for the NFC West title. The Cardinals would drop to 3-6 and the 49ers would fall to 2-7, making it hard to imagine either team putting together a push to become relevant after those records.
Week 10, therefore, seems like a turning point in the division. We’ll have to see how it plays out. The Cardinals and 49ers are both fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive at home against the division’s co-leaders.