By Brandon Burnett
Cold, Hard Football Facts Wizard of the NFC West (@B_Burnett49er)
The 49ers and Rams are rested and ready to get back to smashing faces this week. Better yet, they’ll get to take out their pent-up aggression on each other.
That's right, folks. St. Louis is off to San Fran for a Sunday showdown at the Stick. The last time these two NFC West rivals squared off, the Niners rolled to a decisive 26-0 shutout win, clinching their first division title since 2002 in the process.
This year's 49er defense has arguably been even more formidable than 2011, too.
Frisco is No. 1 in Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt, and No. 2 in both Defensive Passer Rating and Bendability. Conversely, St. Louis is No. 22 in Real Passing Yards per Attempt and Offensive Passer Rating, and No. 27 in Scoreability.
Point being, the prognosis is bleak for the Rams in this one.
Elsewhere in the NFCW, Seattle will host the Jets Sunday evening. The Seahawks don't need any favors at home (4-0 in 2012), but they'll likely get a couple anyway. New York is 3-8 in road games from 2011 til now and 1-8 against Quality Opponents during that time.
For the Cardinals, it's a week off. Somehow, I feel like Arizona's O-line is still going to allow a sack.
1. The Rams Get a Chunk of Their Offense Back, But it Won't be Enough
St. Louis has only four first-half touchdowns in 2012. Two of those were scored by WR Danny Amendola, a third was made possible by his 44-yard catch earlier in the drive.
After missing three weeks with a broken collarbone, Amendola will rejoin the Rams in Week 10.
By no means does his return make St. Louis' offense the best thing since the Greatest Show on Turf, but there's no doubt his 79 receiving yards per game were sorely missed.
Will he be a difference maker against the 49ers, though?
Not only is San Fran's D dominating in nearly every defensive Quality Stat, it's allowing 184 passing yards per game, the second lowest total in the NFL. The 49ers home record of 10-2 under Jim Harbaugh spells doom for the Rams, especially considering St. Louis is 1-10 on the road in that span.
If you're expecting a pair of close, pressure-packed battles from NFCW teams in Week 10, don't. You'll feel more letdown than crazed Tebowmaniacs who thought for sure Tebow would be leading the God Damn Jets to the promised land by now.
2. Seattle's Wins Come in Pairs
After a Week 1 defeat to the Cardinals, the Seahawks bounced back with two straight wins. Then, they lost the following week only to win the next two. After two straight losses, Seattle dropped Minnesota 30-20 at CenturyLink Field in Week 9.
In fact, the 'Hawks haven't sandwiched a win in between two losses since Oct. 9, 2011.
The Jets just don't have much going for them right now, and we covered their inability to hang with Quality Opponents already. Perhaps if they were looking for even a shred of hope, New York would direct its focus to Seattle's three losses against teams with a losing record in 2012.
The only problem there is that those losses came on the road.
Traveling to conquer the Seahawks in Seattle is a fool's errand. Russell Wilson is interception free through four home games and finished with a passer rating of 99.3 or better in each one. That includes a combined six TDs in his last two contests.
Mark Sanchez's chances of experiencing a similar amount of success Sunday are slim to none. The Jets are No. 28 in Real Passing Yards per Attempt and the Seahawks are No. 3 in Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt.
Additionally, New York is No. 30 in OPR, while the 'Hawks are No. 4 in DPR.
In other words, the Jets' chances of winning in Seattle aren't any better than the Rams' odds of pulling the upset in San Francisco.
3. The 49ers Defense is Setting a New Standard for Awesomeness
Remember that Super Bowl-winning Ravens' defense of 2000? The one that recorded four shutouts in one season and set the NFL record for least points allowed in a season with 165, or 10.3 PPG.
Yeah, that defense brought the pain week in and week out. They held six of their 16 regular season opponents without a single TD.
Well, the Niners have done that four times in eight games this year. With two matchups against the Rams and a home game against the Cardinals remaining, it'll probably happen again.
Right now, San Fran's D is holding opponents to 12.9 PPG. In the last five games, they've allowed only 7.6 PPG. They've went from No. 15 to No. 2 in Bendability during that time.
What's interesting is that the Niners are on pace for 15 less takeaways and 12 less sacks in 2012. One of the main arguments against this team being able to sustain success is that they simply couldn't maintain such a high level of takeaways for a second straight season.
That's been true so far, but it certainly hasn't translated to a less effective defense.
4. If the Season Ended Today, Seattle Would be Playoff Bound
Yes sir. Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in April's NFL Draft, would have led his 5-4 squad to the postseason if Week 9 was the end of the regular season.
Of course, that wouldn't be fair to the Detroit Lions, who sit at 4-4 and own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle. Well, life isn't fair. Just ask the Packers.
What can be classified as fair, is Seattle's playoff chances over a 16-game season. Home games against the Jets, Rams and Cardinals shouldn't be much trouble. Road trips to Buffalo and Miami can be successful ones if the Seahawks come to play.
The two teams trailing Seattle for the second wild card spot that they currently own are the Vikings and Lions, who play each other this week. If Minnesota does win, they'll still finish out the season with Green Bay twice, Chicago twice and Houston once.
Sounds like the Vikes will soon learn just how unfair life can be.
It won't get much easier for the Lions, either, who draw the Falcons, Texans, Bears and Packers (twice) the rest of the way. Tampa, who is also 4-4, could be a potential threat to the 'Hawks. Then you have the Cardinals at 4-5, but we can't even include Arizona and playoffs in the same sentence right now.
5. Predicting Post-Week 10 NFC West Standings (2-0 in Week 9)
1) San Francisco 49ers (7-2)
It's not rocket science. The Niners are better than St. Louis. One could make the case that they'll possibly get caught looking ahead to a Monday night matchup with the 7-1 Bears in Week 11, but Harbaugh holds divisional games to a higher level of importance than any other and he's coming off a bye.
2) Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
Like the Niners, Seattle is simply tougher than its opponent this week. Plus, you just don't bet against the Seahawks at home. Kind of like how it's foolish to bet in their favor on the road. It'll bite you in the ass every time. Believe me.
3) Arizona Cardinals (4-5)
'Zona isn't complaining about having a week off. As dreadful as they've been to watch lately, neither are we.
4) St. Louis Rams (3-6)
A road trip to San Francisco comes at the worst possible time for St. Louis, who dropped three straight before the bye and would like to develop some momentum out of the break.