Audibles: NFC West Week 8 preview

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Arizona Cardinals (4-2) at Carolina Panthers (5-2), 1 p.m. ET

This matchup against the Panthers gives Arizona another chance to break through against a strong opponent on the road, but a defeat shouldn't alter our view of the Cardinals. Even good teams lose road games, particularly against opponents as strong as the Panthers.

It's important for the Cardinals to avoid a repeat of their Week 4 implosion against the Jets at the Meadowlands. Turnovers fueled that East Coast meltdown. Kurt Warner tends to have one game like that every season, but not two. I would expect better from him even though the Cardinals could have problems blocking Julius Peppers.

The Panthers should win this game, but the Cardinals are good enough to pull an upset if they play well. Keep an eye on Warner and pay particular attention to how quickly and decisively he delivers the football.

Seattle Seahawks (1-5) at San Francisco 49ers (2-5), 4:15 p.m. ET

This is a matchup of weakness on weakness:

  • The 49ers' secondary is struggling and injury depleted. The Seahawks' passing game is as bad as it's been under Mike Holmgren.

  • The 49ers' offense is bleeding turnovers with J.T. O'Sullivan at quarterback. Seattle has picked off only one pass all season.

Seattle's ability to run the football wasn't enough for the Seahawks when the 49ers won at Qwest Field in Week 2. At some point, the Seahawks need to improve throwing the football. They're worse now in that regard than they were against the 49ers last time. That's why it's tough to envision Seattle scoring enough points to win.

St. Louis Rams (2-4) at New England Patriots (4-2), 1 p.m. ET

The Patriots have won 12 consecutive regular-season games against NFC teams dating to 2005. Of course, Tom Brady was a big part of that. Brady's absence makes the Patriots potentially vulnerable every week.

The Rams are playing loose and with increasing confidence. Coach Jim Haslett has found ways to break the tension and free up players to perform at their best. I'm just not sure if the Rams' offensive line can hold up well enough to run the ball and protect Marc Bulger.

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork is a problem for most opponents. I'll be watching closely to see how Rams center Nick Leckey and teammates handle him.