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Know Your Enemy: NFC West Preseason Update on 49ers, Cardinals, Rams
On Monday, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was asked if he believes the NFC West is going to be as tough this year as it was a season ago, when the division produced a Super Bowl champion (Seahawks), the NFC runner-up (San Francisco 49ers), and a 10-win team that narrowly missed the playoffs (Arizona Cardinals).
"Whoever comes out on top of the division is really going to be ready to play anybody."
With Carroll's observation in mind, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at how Seattle's NFC West counterparts have fared at the preseason's halfway point:
Arizona Cardinals (1-1 Preseason)
A convincing win and a last-minute loss. The Cardinals have posted a 1-1 record in preseason games against the Houston Texans (W, 32-0) and Minnesota Vikings (L, 30-28). ... Starting quarterback Carson Palmer has gone 9-of-13 for 165 yards and a touchdown in two outings. ... Larry Fitzgerald has shown no signs of regression in his 11th season, as the 30-year-old wideout continues to develop his rapport with Palmer, hauling in four catches for 35 yards and a score in limited exhibition snaps. ... Former Washington State Cougars strong safety Deone Bucannon, who Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said would be given ample opportunities to "knock the crap out of people" in the division, has posted a team-high eight tackles through two preseason games. ... And cornerback Patrick Peterson signed a lucrative contract extension last month, but the Seahawks no longer have to worry about Peterson playing offense or returning punts.
The Cincinnati Bengals (0-2 preseason). A nationally-televised contest with the defending AFC North champion is set for Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, where coach Arians has said his starters won't play more than the first half. ... The Cardinals then close out the preseason with a game at the home of the San Diego Chargers before turning around 11 days later and hosting the Bolts at home to open the regular season on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Worth a Look:
San Francisco 49ers (0-2 Preseason)
A pair of humbling defeats. The 49ers were bested by the Baltimore Ravens, 23-3, to open preseason play and then topped by the Denver Broncos, 34-0, a week later in the first NFL game at Levi's Stadium - the team's impressive new digs in Santa Clara, Calif. ... Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gone 6-of-10 for 56 yards in limited snaps over two games, with Blaine Gabbert splitting the majority of the reps with fellow backups Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. ... The 49ers' starters have played sparingly thus far, so the team isn't sweating the early lopsided losses. But head coach Jim Harbaugh would like to see his team get things together soon: "This is going to be an important week for us," coach Harbaugh said. "We need improvement. And we need to make decisions on who we’re playing with. We’re not going to keep experimenting. We got to tighten this down fast."
The Chargers (1-1 preseason). The second game in a row for the Niners at their new stadium. ... San Francisco then wraps up preseason play with a game against the Texans in Houston and will head back to the Lone Star State to open the regular season with a game against the Cowboys in Dallas.
Worth A Look:
St. Louis Rams (0-2 Preseason)
A 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints and a 21-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers. ... Quarterback Sam Bradford saw his first live football action in 300 days against the Packers. The former first-round pick Bradford, who tore his ACL in October of last year and was held out of the team's first preseason game as a precaution, finished 9-of-12 for 101 yards and a touchdown in two series against Green Bay.
The Browns (0-2 preseason). A showdown with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is set for Saturday night in Cleveland. ... The Rams then finish exhibition play against the Dolphins in Miami before opening the regular season at home against the Minnesota Vikings.