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NFC West Week 2 Roundup

In the NFC West this week, three of the four sides continued their unbeaten start to the season, with just Arizona having lost now.

Despite being defeated by an excellent Ravens side, there is definitely promise in the desert.

Meanwhile, the Rams look like they will be tough to knock off the top of the NFC West come the end of the season.

But there is a real chance we could see more than one of the division’s sides in the playoffs this year.

So, here’s a roundup of this week’s NFC West action.

New Orleans Saints 9 Los Angeles Rams 27
Jared Goff in action against the Cowboys last season

The Rams starters continued to shake off their off-season rust as they came out on top in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game.

Wade Phillips’ defence shone, with Eric Weddle and John Johnson combining for the latter to intercept Drew Brees early in the game

Elsewhere Aaron Donald, Cory Littleton, Nickel Robey-Coleman and rookie Taylor Rapp all put on solid displays.

The defence’s assured performance allowed the offence to continue feeling their way into the season, with Jared Goff slowly starting to find his receivers more often.

His game piqued with an excellent 66-yard pass to Cooper Kupp, which initially looked to be a touchdown but was eventually ruled down at the one yard line.

Meanwhile, Todd Gurley steadily improved throughout, getting into the end zone for the first time this season.

The game was marred by yet another poor refereeing decision, again penalising the Saints.

When Goff fumbled and Cameron Jordan scooped it up and ran it 80 yards to the end zone, only to frustratedly discover the play had been blown dead.

Inexperienced guard Joe Noteboom also had his struggles, including an illegal block which led to a Robert Woods touchdown being chalked off in the first half.

Seattle Seahawks 28 Pittsburgh Steelers 26

Pete Carroll’s side have not looked the most convincing at times in their opening two games, and yet all that really matters is that they are now 2-0.

The latest win, Carroll’s 100th as head coach on his 68th birthday, did not look possible early on, with Russell Wilson unable to get a rhythm.

But, the signal caller and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer quickly came up with a plan to limit the damage their own O-line could do to them, firing off quick passes.

Wilson ended with a superb 29 of 35 for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

Receiver Tyler Lockett recorded 79 receiving yards, rookie DK Metcalf impressed with 61 yards and a TD and tight end Will Disley racking up 50 yards and two TDs.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. on the sideline of their final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Most importantly for the Seahawks, they tightened up their secondary, giving up just 5.1 yards per passing play.

That is a whole two yards less than last week against Andy Dalton.

While some may attempt to claim this has more to do with Ben Roethlisberger getting injured, they would be wrong, with Mason Rudolph producing a very solid performance as his backup.

San Francisco 49ers 41 Cincinnati Bengals 17

The Niners dominant performance on Sunday evening saw them won back-to-back road games for the first time since 1989, but it masked some concerning penalty issues.

Kyle Shanahan’s offence racked up 572 yards at an average of 8.4 per play in their resounding win.

The game saw the committee of running backs each put in an excellent shift and Jimmy Garoppolo looking more comfortable.

Matt Breida led the way in the rushing game, while Deebo Samuel was the top receiver.

SANTA CLARA, CA – NOVEMBER 1: San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle (85) leaves the field following their 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Meanwhile on defence Akhello Witherspoon backed up his excellent week one performance.

Concerningly, left tackle Joe Staley will miss around two months after suffering a broken fibula in his left leg.

The big worry for Shanahan will be his side’s inability to stop giving away penalties.

In the opener, they picked up 11 for 87 yards and that was followed up with nine on Sunday for 75 yards.

If the 49ers are to continue their bid for the playoffs they will need to cut the needless fouls.

Arizona Cardinals 17 Baltimore Ravens 23

The hype for Kyler Murray is real. He became only the second player in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards in his first two games in the league in the game at Baltimore.

However, there are clearly plenty of teething problems still to overcome in Arizona before the Cards get back to winning ways.

Most importantly, the combination of coach Kliff Kingsbury’s play calling and his player’s execution in the red zone needs to be better.

The Cards got over the line in just one of four attempts in both their opening games.

Another issue that needs fixing is Murray’s struggles to get on the same page as his offensive line.

He was seemingly caught on camera arguing with centre AQ Shipley at the end of first quarter, while miscommunication seemed to be the cause of a late delay of game penalty and a false start.

But for all the issues, the rookie signal caller is clearly good and experience is only going to improve him and his NFC West side – something his opposite number on Sunday, Lamar Jackson, can attest to.

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