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Around the NFC West: Big matchup in the division

10/18/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com previews the Seahawks-Cardinals game across a few categories. On Aaron Curry: "The Seahawks’ first-round draft choice is turning Qwest Field into his personal playground. The intensity, energy and even nastiness that he brought to the first three home games will be needed -- and then some -- as the Seahawks try to pull even, and lift themselves back into the NFC West picture, entering their bye week. The defense must find a way to pressure Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, and Curry is capable of providing that pressure point."

Also from Farnsworth: Good receivers will be plentiful at Qwest Field.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times outlines keys to victory for Seattle and Arizona. O'Neil: "The Cardinals have scored 54 points in the first half, 31 in the second. That means the Seahawks must be ready to keep pace. Seattle has scored only one touchdown in the first quarter this season, and the Cardinals haven't allowed a first-quarter touchdown."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are searching for an identity, unless this is it. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "We're going to have an opportunity to find out what we're all about. We got four games under our belt, and hopefully we've learned something from those four games."

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells used the word 'humbling' to describe his experience through one month of the regular season. Whisenhunt: "Obviously, if that dumb guy that is calling plays will call more runs, then Beanie will get more opportunities for carries."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals know what they're up against in Seattle. Bertrand Berry on Matt Hasselbeck: "Looking at his confidence and charisma in the huddle and how he comes to the line of scrimmage and throws the ball, he just has a certain confidence about him those guys feed off of. It will be imperative we disrupt that timing and take away some of that confidence."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals are 40 percent of the way toward their goal of five blocked kicks this season. Special-teams coach Kevin Spencer: "I really believe it’s more the kids’ efforts and determination more than it is the scheme. I am just trying to put our strongest and biggest in a position and the guys are just making it happen. Coach Whisenhunt always says he can judge the character of the team by the field-goal rush." Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is also a special talent coming off the edge and one of the few players ever with the speed, extension and timing to block extra points from the outside.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams think their offense is making strides after finishing Week 5 with 400 yards and 27 first downs. Steven Jackson on whether the offense might be pressing in the red zone: "I think it's one of those things that we on the field have become so conscious of it and so uptight about it that it kind of has backfired on us in the last five games. I'm going to go back to my regular routine of playing loose, just being myself, and being a playmaker. I've never had a fumbling problem, knock on wood, and I don't think it will be a problem."

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis sensed optimism around the Rams during the past week.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Jaguars' problems could be a key to keeping the Rams in St. Louis. Burwell: "Things are going so badly in Jacksonville that the Jaguars appear to be the most likely existing NFL franchise that could bolt to more prosperous places. And if you are a Rams loyalist, you hope the Jags jump to the front of the line in the race to relocate to L.A."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revisits the intertwined efforts of Jacksonville and St. Louis as the cities tried to attract pro football during the 1990s. Thomas: "Because of stadium lease and ownership group issues, the would-be St. Louis Stallions never came into being. Jacksonville, which briefly dropped out of the expansion race in July '93 because of its own stadium lease issue, got its act together in time to be awarded the NFL's 30th franchise."

Also from Thomas: He gives the Rams an edge when they run the ball against the Jaguars.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams tackle Adam Goldberg has embraced his role as mentor for first-round rookie Jason Smith. Smith: "He grabbed and took me under his wing and has been a mentor to me. The guy's very crafty, he's smooth, and he's a great guy, a great person. I've learned a lot from him since I got here."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with analyst Greg Cosell for his thoughts on the 49ers. Cosell: "I think (Shaun) Hill has had some nice moments this year. I thought his (fourth-quarter) drive against Arizona Week 1 was very, very good. I have some problems with the way Arizona chose to play defense on that drive, but you still have to make the throws. Same with Minnesota. I thought Hill made some very good throws. I thought Minnesota had some problems with playing their coverages and the responsibilities within those coverages, but you still have to make the throws. But at the end of the day, Hill is not going to be a guy who's going to consistently drop back and make throw after throw after throw to either keep you in games or win games."

Also from Maiocco: a look at how Michael Crabtree's contract affects the 49ers' salary cap in 2009 (not much).

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News sizes up the 49ers' Hill and isn't particularly impressed.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News takes a bigger-picture look at the 49ers through five games.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers think they have plenty of speed even though the Falcons outran them a few times in Week 5. General manager Scot McCloughan: "It's better than we've ever had. Our play speed is fine compared to the rest of the league. We've got speed. The play with Roddy White on Nate (Clements), Nate's there to make the play. He's got to make the play. With elite speed like (White's), you're not going to catch him. White's a 4.3 guy (in the 40-yard dash). He can fly."