All four NFC West teams won last week, the kind of cosmic convergence that makes you want to climb into a teepee and listen to old Yes albums until the lyrics make sense. The schedulers knew we could take only so much, so the NFC West teams all face each other this week in a kind of toddler swim meet. The St. Louis Rams have scored 13 points in back-to-back games, so it can be argued that their offense has found consistency, though four of those points came from the defense. The Seattle Seahawks are nearly unbeatable when you turn the ball over to them in the red zone three times.
CARDINALS (3-6) at 49ERS (8-1), 2:05 p.m.
A predictable, rather sad quarterback controversy is brewing in Arizona after John Skelton's back-to-back wins over the Rams and the Eagles. It is hard not to go through the motions on the Skelton versus Kevin Kolb debate. Fordham bona fides aside, Skelton is an adequate backup at best, his performance against the Rams (two safeties!) was dreadful, and the Cardinals are terrible. The San Francisco 49ers, who actually know how to use their defensive talent, will not be as obliging as the Eagles.
CHARGERS (4-5) at BEARS (6-3), 2:15 p.m.
Lovie Smith does not receive the credit he deserves. His Chicago Bears coaching staff is filled with temperamental geniuses who have impulse-control issues. The offense is loaded with divas: When Roy Williams comes across as normal, you know you are dealing with some Timothy Leary-level team chemistry. On paper, Smith's blitzed-up take on the stodgy cover-2 defense, built around the talents of 30-something linebackers, looks about as dangerous as a Toyota Celica with mag wheels. This is a team that strives to beat opponents with punt returns, for heaven's sake. Norv Turner also has mixed playoff runs with .500 seasons during his Chargers tenure, but he has done so under much more favorable conditions. His division is much softer, he has an indisputable franchise quarterback and he does not have to hold the reins on assistants like Mike Martz. Turner needs everything to break right to win, and this year nothing has.
TITANS (5-4) at FALCONS (5-4), 2:15 p.m.
Tennessee and Atlanta are now second-place teams behind flawed, injury-plagued division front-runners that have byes. As compelling as this game may be, the real action is in the training and meeting rooms of New Orleans and Houston, where Sean Payton tries to cope with injuries to himself and others, and Matt Leinart acquaints himself with the children's menu of the Texans' playbook. ("I can't decide between the Donald Duck Zone Stretch to Arian Foster and the Andy Panda iso to Ben Tate!")
EAGLES (3-6) at GIANTS (6-3), 6:20 p.m.
Andy Reid's Traveling Cautionary Tale Tent Revival has arrived from Philadelphia, and we are celebrating with a quiz. Match these Eagles Dream Teamers — 1.) Nnamdi Asomugha, 2.) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 3.) Steve Smith, 4.) Ronnie Brown, 5.) Vince Young, 6.) Jason Babin — with their unique accomplishments this season. a.) I chase receivers with the enthusiasm of a teenager walking to the principal's office after a food fight, b.) My quarterback rating of 0.0 is lower than the punter's, and I may be starting on Sunday, c.) I line up offside when not inexplicably covering Cardinals receivers not named Larry Fitzgerald, d.) I am among the league leaders with nine penalties this season, e.) I crumple untouched after catches in the open field as if the superimposed television first-down line were real and made of plutonium, f.) I throw the ball straight into the air while being tackled at the goal line.
The answers: 1-c, 2-a, 3-e, 4-f , 5-b, 6-d. If you need reasons Giants general manager Jerry Reese did not dive headfirst into the free-agent pool last offseason, here are six.
CHIEFS (4-5) at PATRIOTS (6-3), Monday, 6:30 p.m.
With Matt Cassel (hand) out indefinitely, the left-hander Tyler Palko takes over a Kansas City offense that has scored 13 points in the past two weeks. Todd Haley has reinstated his rotate-the-backfield lunacy, limiting the playing time of Jackie Battle (4.6 yards per carry) so he can find a role for Thomas Jones (2.9 yards per carry). So things are not going well for the Chiefs' president, Scott Pioli, who may feel the urge to barricade himself inside his old office in Foxborough and refuse to come out.
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