2013 NFC West Midseason Report Card: Second-half surge coming?

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The most powerful division in the world before the season, the NFC West has dimmed in the eyes of some. But it's still quite good and hasn't really even hit it's stride yet.

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The Seahawks looked bad against the Rams on Monday night but they're dealing with injuries and had a bad matchup. They'll get Percy Harvin back soon. The 49ers are quietly on quite the winning streak and have only lost to Seattle and Indianapolis. St. Louis is starting Kellen Clemens. Telling you: don't sleep on Arizona doing something weird in the next few weeks with their defense.

Their AFC counterparts have seized the early-season headlines. It wouldn't be surprising if the NFC West took over in the second half.

Seattle Seahawks

MVP: Richard Sherman -- Earl Thomas also warrants consideration for his play, but Sherman's leading the league in interceptions with four and has played -- as is typical -- lights out thus far at corner in 2013.

Disappointment: Offensive Line -- It's mainly because of injury, but the Seattle offensive line's been a major problem. Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini are both out for a few more weeks. The tackles have looked like rag dolls against quality defensive ends and it causes Russell Wilson to struggle as well.

Surprise: Michael Bennett/Cliff Avril -- Cheap additions in free agency with injury concerns are panning out nicely, having combined for 8.5 sacks so far this season.

Going Forward: Concerns over Seattle's play on the road persist, but the Seahawks are 7-1 and there's no need to panic about their future prospects. Russell Wilson isn't putting up big numbers and Marshawn Lynch isn't dominating. The offensive line getting healthy can fix that and Percy Harvin returning will help. The Seahawks aren't playing their best football but are still winning. But you want to peak in January -- not October -- anyway.

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San Francisco 49ers

MVP: Frank Gore -- Gore might be the most underrated running back in NFL history. He just keeps churning out big seasons and when Colin Kaepernick and the offense was struggling, they leaned on him to right the ship.

Disappointment: Aldon Smith -- He has 4.5 sacks in three games ... but he hasn't played since running his car into a tree and heading off to rehab. Here's hoping he fixes his personal demons and comes back just as strong.

Surprise: Glenn Dorsey -- A huge surprise as a cheap free-agent signing this offseason, Dorsey stepped into the starting lineup when Ian Williams went down and has been a revelation on defense, plugging up the middle for San Francisco.

Going Forward: After a shaky stretch early in the season -- remember when we all thought the 49ers were in trouble??? -- they've turned things around and won five-straight games. A brutal stretch after the bye awaits San Francisco but they're good enough on both sides of the ball (and well-coached enough) to win the NFC West again. December 8th's rematch against the Seahawks is smattered in red ink.

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St. Louis Rams

MVP: Robert Quinn -- I had Quinn locked in here before he sacked Russell Wilson three times on Monday night. He's almost matched his sack total from 2012 (10.5) and could make a legit run at 25 sacks. Too bad he's on a terrible team.

Disappointment: Cortland Finnegan -- The veteran corner is still due a LOT of money but has either been injured or downright awful in coverage.

Surprise: Zac Stacy -- The most surprising thing is they didn't start the season with him at tailback to begin the year.

Going Forward: The Rams lost Sam Bradford to an ACL tear. It's impossible to imagine them competing without their franchise quarterback. But as they showed in Week 8, they can still be a pain in the butt for teams by playing good defense and running the ball well. Floating around .500 would be an impressive feat the rest of the way.

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Arizona Cardinals

MVP: Patrick Peterson -- Peterson's starting to establish himself as one of the premiere cornerbacks in the NFL. Doesn't hurt that he's an offensive weapon too.

Disappointment: Carson Palmer -- The expectations shouldn't have been so high, but they were. Palmer's got an arm but he's just not a fit in Bruce Arians duck-and-chuck offense.

Surprise: Tyrann Mathieu -- Honey Badger is a revelation from the draft and looks like he might be the biggest home run to date for first-year GM Steve Keim.

Going Forward: Can Arizona be a playoff team? They've got some exciting young pieces right now, including running back Andre Ellington (narrowly beaten out by the Honey Badger above) and at 4-4 have a favorable six-game schedule featuring only the Rams from the NFC West. Don't bank on it but this defense is capable of limiting opponents. The offense needs to get in sync. It's a long shot but not as bleak as you might think.

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