Week 2 NFC West Preview: 49ers-Panthers, Cardinals-Buccaneers

Week 1 was not an inspiring one for the NFC West as a whole. The Seattle Seahawks needed a last minute touchdown to edge out the Miami Dolphins in an rough outing. The Arizona Cardinals fell at home to a New England Patriots team without Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski. Of course the entire country witnessed the ugly Monday night contest between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams.

But that was only Week 1 and there are 16 more to go with each of these teams looking get things on the right track. Here is a preview of what the division has coming up in Week 2:

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ Carolina Panthers (0-1) (10:00 AM PT):

Regardless of how ugly it was, a win is a win and the 49ers got their victory on Monday night at the Rams’ expense. They get no chance to bask in that victory, however, as they must now turn around on a short week and head to Carolina to take on a Panthers team hungry for a win after a disappointing ending to the NFL’s season opener last Thursday.

Despite their 28 points, the 49ers offense wasn’t exactly driving up and down the field on the Rams, and was helped by two turnovers. QB Blaine Gabbert averaged less than five yards per attempt and if they continue to pose no threat downfield and allow the Panthers to stack the line, Carlos Hyde won’t find any rushing lanes.

On the other side, the 49ers will have a tough time dealing with all of the weapons Carolina possesses. Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart provide a top notch rushing attack, meanwhile Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are tough to stop in the passing game.

On paper, it would seem like the 49ers don’t have the talent on defense to contain the Panthers, and don’t have the weapons on offense to threaten a tough Panthers defense. If San Francisco can have a good showing on a short week, on the road, against the defending NFC Champions, everyone will have to re-think their thoughts on this team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-1) (1:00 PM PT):

One of the bigger surprises of Week 1 takes on one of the more disappointing teams. The Cardinals can’t afford to start the season 0-2, but they will have to stop a Bucs team that looked extremely potent on offense in their Week 1 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Cardinals still have all of the necessary pieces on offense. Running back David Johnson showed off his versatility and Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are an excellent 1-2 receiver combo. The Bucs defense is no slouch, however. Their cornerback trio of Grimes, Verner, and Hargreaves is excellent, Gerald McCoy leads a D-Line that gets pressure, and the Bucs linebackers cover the field excellently.

On the other side, Jameis Winston looks like a much improved QB for the Bucs and with Mike Evans he has his top wide receiver. Doug Martin provides some balance on the ground as well. The Cardinals defense is still full of playmakers and the matchup between Evans and CB Patrick Peterson will be worth watching. Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones get to the QB very well and Tyrann Mathieu is always a threat to make a big play.

The Bucs look like a dangerous team, but it’s a big step up going from the Falcons’ defense to the Cardinals. This game could come down to which defense can make more plays and force some turnovers, but look for the Cardinals to get things back in order.