Audibles: NFC West Week 16 preview
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kurt Warner has repeatedly lamented the difficulties associated with throwing the ball too frequently. He went further following the Week 15 defeat to Minnesota by suggesting the Cardinals lost because they failed to hold up at the line of scrimmage -- on both sides of the ball.
Warner might need the ground game even more against the Patriots. Wintry weather could make throwing the ball more difficult. The Cardinals would have another reason to tighten their formations if Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin sits out to rest a shoulder injury.
The Cardinals' frustration -- evident in comments from Warner, strong safety Adrian Wilson and others after the Minnesota game -- will grow if the Patriots blow them out at Gillette Stadium. Coach Ken Whisenhunt keeps talking about opportunities to demonstrate progress against playoff-tested teams. Beating one of those teams has proven elusive.
Mike Holmgren's final home game as Seahawks coach should be memorable. Light snow and winds projected to exceed 23 miles per hour could turn Qwest Field into a winter wonderland.
The Seahawks have played hard for Holmgren down the stretch and that should continue against the Jets. An inspired performance from Seattle, backed by an emotional home crowd, should give the Seahawks a chance.
Brett Favre and the Jets have struggled in West Coast defeats against San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco.
The 49ers have won two of their last three games against the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
Shaun Hill's steady play at quarterback gives San Francisco an excellent chance at making it three times in four seasons. When the teams played in Week 11, the 49ers scored touchdowns on all five red zone possessions.
The emotional edge belongs to the 49ers as well. Rams fans figure to save their loudest cheers for 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce. The 49ers are also playing better on defense. Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin should have the advantage against the Rams' interior line.
In short, nothing about how these teams are playing would appear to favor the Rams.
Click here to access the NFL Pick Center, a service for ESPN Insiders where fans can view two different simulation models for every NFL game.