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Originally published October 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 21, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Rams are 0-6, but that's OK in NFC Worst

Ask quarterback Marc Bulger how his St. Louis Rams manage to stay confident despite being 0-6, and he gives a snappy response. "Fortunately we're in the...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Division records

The NFC West and the AFC East are the worst divisions in the NFL. The combined records of the teams in each division:

8-15

NFC West,

AFC East

10-13

NFC South

10-12

AFC West

12-10

NFC North, AFC North

14-8

NFC East

15-6

AFC South

Today

St. Louis Rams

@ Seahawks,

1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

Ask quarterback Marc Bulger how his St. Louis Rams manage to stay confident despite being 0-6, and he gives a snappy response.

"Fortunately we're in the NFC West and we're only three games out somehow," Bulger said last week. "It's one of those deals where I guess it's good to be bad right now ... we're not totally out of it yet."

Welcome to the NFC Worst, where every team is at .500 or below.

All puns aside, it's hard to respect the NFC West. Only one other division in the NFL, the AFC West, doesn't have at least one team over .500, but every team in that division has at least two wins.

In the NFC West, the Rams are winless, the San Francisco 49ers are 2-3 and the Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks are 3-3.

Knowing that, Bulger and the Rams, as injured and ineffective as they are, remain alive for the division title. The one the Seahawks have held for three straight seasons.

"It's crazy. Everybody's hit and miss. Nobody can really pull away right now," Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson said. "That just shows the toughness of the NFL. Any given Sunday anybody can win or lose, so we have to make sure we take care of our shop and take it one game at a time."

Though the Cardinals and Seahawks have the same record, Arizona has defeated Seattle this season. That could prove to be important in the event of a tie at the end of the season.

"We've failed over and over again this year," Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "Three times we've failed, but we're not out of it. We still have a shot and we can affect the outcome of the season still. That's what we need to do."

The Rams have been outscored 159-73 this season. This will be Bulger's first game back since Week 4. Three starters on the offensive line, including Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace, are on injured reserve. And a host of other Rams are hurting or unable to play this week.

"There's not a lot to hold on to when you're 0-6," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "Some teams start slow and hit their stride later, so we're hoping to be that team."

The Cardinals are on their third quarterback, Tim Rattay, after Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner were lost to injuries. Leinart is out for the season, and the Cardinals had to sign Hasselbeck's brother, Tim, out of the broadcast booth as a backup.

"Man, I just wish he wasn't going to the team I'm rooting against all the time now," big brother Matt Hasselbeck said. "That's the tough thing."

The 49ers are without quarterback Alex Smith and also missed key players at different points of the season because of injury. Those include linebacker Manny Lawson (out for the year) and tight end Vernon Davis.

Seattle is without receiver Deion Branch, has lost for the season defensive tackles Chuck Darby and Marcus Tubbs, and is missing fullback Mack Strong, who retired.

"Well, no one's distanced themselves," Holmgren said. "There have been a lot of injuries in the division. ... It's a scramble, so it seems."

The Seahawks appear to have the best depth, and the talent to overcome their recent woes and surge ahead in the division.

"We have a lot of football left to play," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We get some guys [Branch] back after the bye, which will be nice. But this game coming up is a very important game for a lot of reasons, not the least of which it's a division game. We have got to win a game, so instead of talking big picture here, we have to focus in on this week, this game. That's all."

The Seahawks can't afford to overlook the Rams, not after what happened to Seattle against previously winless New Orleans last week. There's a history of close games between the Seahawks and Rams, and the Seahawks want to regain home-field advantage at Qwest Field, where they win the vast majority of their games.

"It's wild," running back Shaun Alexander said. "I mean we obviously haven't played well the last two weeks and we're still in first place. We're happy with our position. The goal for everybody is to win your division, and we have a shot."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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