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NFC West Report: Playoff Picture Gaining Clarity

Posted Dec 16, 2013

Checking in on how the 49ers divisional rivals fared in their Week 15 matchups around the NFL.

In this edition of the NFC West Report, 49ers.com recaps Week 15's action. NFL.com clarifies the playoff picture here.

San Francisco's 33-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of just four divisional victories on Sunday. Colin Kaepernick's "monster" game, coupled with Frank Gore's record-setting day and Aldon Smith's 12th multi-sack effort set the 49ers up for their convincing win.

St. Louis Rams

Decision: 27-16 victory over the visiting New Orleans Saints.

Offense: Rookie running back Zac Stacy gouged New Orleans' defense for 132 yard; his 106 at halftime, built on a career-long 40-yard scamper, represented a new franchise record.

Defense: Robert Quinn recorded two more sacks for a total of 15 this season; the first ocurred on the Saints first offensive snap and forced one of two Drew Brees-thrown interceptions.

Stat: Despite the win, the Rams will finish a 10th straight season without a winning record.

Quote: "Resilient is the word,” quarterback Kellen Clemens, who tossed a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes, told StLouisRams.com. "We got beat up against some pretty tough divisional opponents on the road, and it was nice to come back home. Again, all three phases showed up, played well, and we’re excited to get the win."

Ahead: St. Louis hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16.

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Arizona Cardinals

Decision: 37-34 victory over the host Tennessee Titans.

Offense: Jay Feely's 43-yard field goal in overtime made up for the Cards blowing a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead.

Defense: Cornerback Antoine Cason, who returned an interception for a touchdown earlier in the game, picked off Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on the first overtime series to put Feely in position.

Stock up: Cason, a sixth year-pro and onetime first-round draft pick, also recovered a short kickoff, showing his play-making skills in two phases of the game.

Stat: The Cardinals went 4-0 against AFC South competition this season, securing the first interconference sweep since schedules were realigned in 2002.

Quote: "We might have gotten a little too comfortable there at the ends of this one," quarterback Carson Palmer, who threw for 231 yards and a touchdown, told AZCardinals.com. "The important thing is defensively we stepped up and made a play. Sometimes these games are good for you."

Ahead: Arizona visits Seattle in Week 16.

Playoffs: With six wins over their last seven games, the Cards remain a game back in the NFC Wild Card race.

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Seattle Seahawks

Decision: 23-0 victory over the host New York Giants.

Offense: Running back Marshawn Lynch broke five tackles within two yards of the end zone for a tone-setting touchdown in the second quarter.

Defense: The unit held Eli Manning and Co. to just 181 yards and intercepted Manning a career-worst five times.

Stock up: Cornerback Byron Maxwell, whom the 49ers targeted in Week 14, recorded two of those picks and continued his strong play while replacing the injured Brandon Browner.

Stat: Quarterback Russell Wilson, who racked up 256 yards and his 50th touchdown career touchdown pass, now has 23 wins under his belt, the most by a second-year quarterback since the NFL started playing Super Bowls.

Quote: "We had a chip our shoulder. We wanted to win this game," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who recorded 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks, told SeattleSeahawks.com. "Especially after losing the way we did last week. So we felt like we came out with a bunch of energy, and we needed it."

Ahead: Seattle hosts Arizona in Week 16.

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Playoffs: Already with a postseason spot locked up, Seattle can clinch the conference's top seed with a win or a 49ers loss in Week 16.

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