Audibles: NFC West Week 6 preview

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-2), 4:15 p.m. ET

Pull up a stat sheet for this one. Both offenses should find openings in the passing game. Playing at home gives the Cardinals a much better shot at the upset as long as crowd noise and an active defense make the Cowboys think on offense.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt came to the desert hoping to develop an identity in the running game. It was a nice idea, but Kurt Warner and the passing game remain the strength of this team on offense. The Cowboys' running game faces a favorable matchup in a close game, so the Cardinals might need to generate more points than usual.

Arizona's ability to flood the Dallas defense with multiple receivers should be a key to this game even though Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin likely will not play. Arizona used three or more wide receivers nearly 70 percent of the time against Buffalo even though the Cardinals led the game most of the way. A similar philosophy makes sense this week against a Dallas defense with issues in the secondary. Cornerback Terence Newman will not play.

Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, though fined for his hit on Trent Edwards in Week 5, needs to stay aggressive. Arizona lacks the personnel to defend Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens. Physical, hard-hitting play from Wilson could serve as an equalizer.

Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Seattle Seahawks (1-3), 4:15 ET

The Seahawks entered the season expecting their defense to compensate for injuries at receiver, a rusty quarterback and any growing pains associated with replacing key offensive assistants, notably Jim Zorn. Five weeks into the season, that isn't happening. Not only that, but the offense is far worse off than expected.

Usually the home field would be enough for me to predict a Seahawks victory against almost any opponent. Not this week. Yes, the Packers are struggling as well. But trusting the Seahawks isn't a good idea, even at home.

Matt Hasselbeck's knee injury prevented him from practicing with a patched-together group of receivers. That means Hasselbeck won't be comfortable with his knee and he still won't be comfortable with his receivers. That's a terrible combination for a Seattle team accustomed to a baseline level of efficiency through the air.

The Packers' Greg Jennings leads the league in receptions of at least 20 yards. The Seattle defense has allowed more pass plays of that distance than all but two NFL teams. That combination gives the Packers a chance to win in Seattle.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) at San Francisco 49ers (2-3), 4:15 ET

Cracks are forming in the 49ers on both sides of the ball. The Eagles' blitzing ways should force 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan into more mistakes, even though the 49ers figure to hit on some big plays from time to time.

Donovan McNabb and the Eagles have to like their matchups in the deep passing game. The 49ers lack speed at safety and they've been having more breakdowns than usual in coverage. Look for Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson to show why teams erred in letting him slip to the Eagles in the draft. Jackson went to Cal and will presumably be on his game for this one.
St. Louis Rams (0-4) at Washington Redskins (4-1), 1 p.m. ET

The Jim Haslett era faces a brutal opening 1-2 punch with games against the Redskins and Cowboys. Both opponents are fully capable of shredding a struggling Rams defense with serious issues in the secondary.

The Rams need to compete hard and prevent a total collapse on defense. Those are modest goals, but the Rams mostly need to keep their confidence intact.