Pride of the NFC West? Not so much


Barry Wilner - AP Pro Football Writer



Barry Wilner

AP Pro Football Writer

The NFC West standings make little sense. At the bottom are the two teams that have dominated the division for years.

Yet there sit Seattle and San Francisco, both 2-4 as they head into Thursday night’s game at Levi’s Stadium.

What gives?

In Seattle, the once fearsome defense does late in games. In San Francisco, the overhauling of the roster, particularly so many retirements by key players, has hurt.

Still, this is one of the league’s nastiest rivalries, even with Jim Harbaugh gone from the Bay Area.

Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman doesn’t long to see Harbaugh or sparring partner Michael Crabtree, the wide receiver now in Oakland.

“I’m not going to miss either, because I think I’m still playing,” Sherman said. “When you’re playing this game, you try not to worry about other people as much as you worry about what you can do and what your team does. … So I don’t think I think about either of those guys very much.”

Jim Tomsula, Harbaugh’s replacement as Niners coach, has plenty to think about in this matchup.

“They still have their fiery attitude,” Tomsula said. “It’s a really good team. There’s no mistake about that. I know the record is the record, but the Seahawks are very good.”

Seattle (No. 15 in AP Pro32) is a 6-point choice at No. 23 San Francisco.

BEST BET: SEAHAWKS, 24-13

KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP: Last week’s pick never seems in danger of losing. With NEW ENGLAND now taken, next recommendation in the survivor sweepstakes is rebounding ARIZONA.

No. 27 Tampa Bay (plus 3 1-2) at No. 25 Washington

With no real strong feelings for any underdogs this week, going with a rested Tampa Bay.

UPSET SPECIAL: BUCCANEERS, 20-19

No. 6 New York Jets (plus 9) at No. 1 New England

Jets could make their division — and entire AFC — more interesting with a win. Sorry …

PATRIOTS, 30-20

No. 29 Baltimore (plus 7 1-2) at No. 7 Arizona, Monday night

At some point, the Ravens we expected might show up. Not in prime time.

CARDINALS, 27-17

No. 12 Philadelphia (plus 3) at No. 4 Carolina

A Carolina letdown wouldn’t be shocking after huge win at Seattle.

EAGLES, 22-21

No. 9 Atlanta (minus 4) at No. 31 Tennessee

Falcons will atone for loss at New Orleans by romping in Music City.

FALCONS, 33-16

No. 14 Buffalo (minus 4) vs. No. 32 Jacksonville at London

Rex Ryan at Wembley. Jolly Old England might never be the same.

BILLS, 20-13

No. 18 Dallas (plus 5 1-2) at No. 13 New York Giants

Matt Cassel makes enough of a difference for Cowboys to stay close.

GIANTS, 21-17

No. 24 Houston (plus 4 1-2) at No. 20 Miami

Dan Campbell gets a second straight victory as interim coach.

DOLPHINS, 26-20

No. 22 Cleveland (plus 4 1-2) at No. 16 St. Louis

Browns have mastered close defeats. Here’s another.

RAMS, 17-16

No. 10 Minnesota (minus 3) at No. 28 Detroit

Yes, Detroit showed fortitude with its OT win against Chicago. Minnesota simply is better.

VIKINGS, 24-22

No. 21 New Orleans (plus 5) at No. 11 Indianapolis

Hey, Chuck: PUNT.

COLTS, 27-20

No. 19 Oakland (plus 4) at No. 17 San Diego

Do the Chargers have any juice left after two distressing defeats?

CHARGERS, 28-22

No. 8 Pittsburgh (OFF) at No. 29 Kansas City

Uncertainty at quarterback for Pittsburgh takes this one off the board. So …

STEELERS, 23-20 with Ben Roethlisberger.

CHIEFS, 23-13 with Landry Jones or Michael Vick or Terry Bradshaw.

2015 RECORD: Against spread: Week 8-5-1, Season (49-37-2). Straight up: Week 10-4, Season (60-31)

Best Bet: 4-2 against spread, 5-1 straight up.

Upset special: 2-4 against spread, 2-4 straight up.

Barry Wilner

AP Pro Football Writer

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