NFC West Stock Watch

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
10:20
AM ET
FALLING

1. Rams defense. The Rams have given up 75 points over their past four games while forcing only one turnover. They've stepped up in class by facing Green Bay and Tom Brady, but other teams from the NFC West fared OK against those quarterbacks.

2. Seahawks' third-down D. Seattle squandered a winning performance from its offense by allowing 12 third-down conversions in 16 chances against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. That included a 46-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young on a third-and-11 play. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were playing zone and still blew the coverage. They might have let up in the mistaken belief the football was heading elsewhere, coach Pete Carroll indicated.

3. Cardinals brain trust. Bad breaks with injuries have put Arizona in a bind. The team could have been better prepared, however. Arizona is paying the price for failing to select an offensive lineman in the first three rounds over the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 drafts. Meanwhile, the Cardinals got pushed around Monday night by a 49ers offensive line featuring first-round picks Joe Staley, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis. It's not like everything would be fine in Arizona if Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges were healthy.

4. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals CB/RET. Peterson was hoping to go from Pro Bowl return specialist as a rookie to Pro Bowl cornerback in his second season. He can probably forget about that after the nation watched Michael Crabtree beat Peterson for two touchdowns during the 49ers' 24-3 victory Sunday night. This was a rough game for the Cardinals overall. Peterson's struggles came as a bit of a surprise.

RISING

1. Michael Crabtree, 49ers WR. The fourth-year receiver gained 61 yards after the catch, a season high. He played a direct role in all the 49ers' scoring as the team took a 17-0 lead. In addition to the two scoring receptions, Crabtree gained 22 yards on a third-and-23 play to move San Francisco into field-goal range. With Randy Moss adding a 47-yard scoring pass featuring 41 yards after the catch, the 49ers finished with 107 YAC overall. That was their most since a Week 13 game against St. Louis last season.

2. Alex Smith, 49ers QB. Smith set an NFL single-game record for completion percentage among players with at least 15 passes in a game. His only incomplete pass in 19 attempts bounced off tight end Delanie Walker. The pass was a bit behind Walker, but overall the 49ers could not have scripted a sharper passing performance against this Arizona defense. Smith did take four sacks, usually by holding the ball too long. But he had to know this was his night when Walker caught a pass Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington tipped along the sideline.

3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB. Wilson completed 25 of 35 passes (71.4 percent) for 236 yards and two touchdowns even though receiver Sidney Rice dropped what should have been a long scoring reception. Wilson graded out perfectly on his pre-snap checks and protection calls, Carroll said. The one pick Wilson threw resulted in a miscommunication with Rice, the sort of thing that happens when a quarterback and receiver haven't played together long. Wilson led a 12-play, 87-yard drive to the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tight end Zach Miller deserves special mention, too. He went above and beyond with a one-handed scoring catch.

4. Daryl Washington, Cardinals ILB. Washington collected two more sacks during an otherwise forgettable Cardinals performance. That gives him eight sacks for the season. Washington's ability to consistently get pressure on inside blitzes should help him finish the season with double-digit sacks. Getting two sacks in prime time should enhance Washington's standing among Pro Bowl voters as well.

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