The question for fans of the NFC West is what team will step up and challenge the Arizona Cardinals for the division title.
The Cardinals sit atop of the division all by themselves as they and the Seattle Seahawks celebrated their bye on week nine of the season. That left the stage open to the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams to show if either one can press the Cards.
What makes the Vikings and Rams possible rivals and not pretenders is that each team has a quality running back.
Finally, Rams rookie Todd Gurley has gotten on the field and has shown in the last four games that he is as good as the Rams hoped he was. In his first four games of his NFL career he has averaged more than 125 yards a game. He already has collected 664 yards on 118 carries and four touchdowns. The result of him being on the field has been victories for the Rams.
However, he didn’t perform to his standards in the Rams loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Gurley carried the ball 24 times, but could only achieve 89 yards. However, he did rush for one score.
Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson got the best of this competition gaining 125 yards on 29 carries and scoring a touchdown.
The difference between the two could be easily observed in overtime. Peterson helped set up the Vikings winning field goal running for 21-yards in the extra frame while Gurley lost six yards on his only carry in OT.
Rams’ kicker Greg Zuerlein helped his team’s cause with four field goals, one a career long 61-yard boot. That kick was the first over 60-yard field goal in the NFL in almost two years. He also was accurate on a 53-yarder with 17 seconds left in regulation.
Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of the game when he slid down after a 5-yard scramble in the fourth quarter and was hit by Rams’ cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. The blow knocked out Bridgewater.
Before the injury he was able to complete 13 passes on 21 attempts for 144 yards and one interception. He ran for a score in the third quarter and scored a two-point conversion on a bootleg rollout. Former Rams quarterback Shaun Hill replaced him.
Rams’ QB Nick Foles completed 18 passes on 33 attempts for 168 yards on a day when his team had to punt eight times and were penalized 12 times for 87 yards.
With less than 10 minutes remaining and down by 10, Foles engineered a drive that culminated in a short Gurley touchdown run. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher called for a two-point conversion, but Gurley was stuffed for no gain. VIKINGS 21 RAMS 18
Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are mired in last place in the division with a record of 3-6. The inconsistent play of the 49ers can be blamed on QB Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers thought a change was necessary and turned to backup QB Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert was a first round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but did not perform and was shipped off to the 49ers. The start was his first since week 5 of the 2013 season.
He hit tight end Garrett Celek for two scores –- a 1-yard pass and an 11-yard pass. He finished with 15 completions on 25 attempts for 185 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan completed 30 passes on 45 attempts for 303 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice.
Julio Jones caught 10 passes for 137 yards and he has already collected more than 1,000 yards for the season. It is the second straight year he has achieved the feat.
The 49ers were able to keep Falcons’ star running back Devonta Freeman in check. He gained only 12 yards on 12 carries.
The 49ers gained a total of 133 rushing yards with Shaun Draughn gaining 58, Gabbert collecting 32, and Kendall Gaskins rushed for 20 yards.
The win ended Gabbert’s personal 10-game losing streak as a starter and the results ended a two-game stretch during which the 49ers had not scored a touchdown. 49ERS 17 FALCONS 16
NFC WEST STANDINGS Overall Division
ARIZONA CARDINALS 6-2 1-1
ST. LOUIS RAMS 4-4 3-0
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 4-4 1-1
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 3-6 0-3
NFC WEST SCHEDULE
CARDINALS @ SEAHAWKS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2015
BEARS @ RAMS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2015
Courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals