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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Around the NFC West: Rams' chances

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have become a little too consistent on offense, at least in terms of how many points they score. Thomas: "Ten games into the season, the Rams have topped 20 points only once, in a 30-16 victory over Washington in Game 3. At a point in the season where there is next to nothing left on the street in terms of free agents, it could very well be that the Rams have reached their level of competency for this season. Compared to last year, the offensive improvement has been significant. With six games still to go this season, the Rams already have scored more touchdowns (18 to 17) and scored more points (177 to 175) than they did in the entire 2009 season."

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript featuring his thoughts on the Rams' chances in the NFC West. Thomas: "I think Arizona and San Francisco are out of it. If the Rams can win two of these next three road games, I think they're very much in the mix. If they win one of the three, they're hanging by a thread, if they lose all three forget about it."

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch polls colleagues on the legacy of Steven Jackson. Bill Coats: "It’s been interesting to watch Steven Jackson mature over his seven seasons with the Rams. He was open with his feelings and thus misunderstood for a few years. Ultimately, I think his legacy will be as a fierce competitor, the most productive running back in franchise history, as well as a devoted team leader."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says Sam Bradford's success as a rookie contrasts sharply with experiences elsewhere around the league.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers a player-by-player review from the 49ers' game against Tampa Bay, noting that the offensive line struggled. Maiocco on rookie tackle Anthony Davis: "He had another difficult game with a couple pressures surrendered. Although none of the sacks were entirely on him, his protection could've been a lot better on half of those six sacks. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett beat him on a fourth-quarter sacks, and linebacker Quincy Black got pressure that contributed to a sack, too."

Also from Maiocco: Mike Singletary would need lots of breaks to return as head coach in 2011. Maiocco: "True, the 49ers are not inclined to make any dramatic move during the season. But the attention brought on by a national-TV audience for "Monday Night Football" against the Arizona Cardinals could also factor into the equation. If the wheels come off Monday night -- as they did Sunday against the Buccaneers -- it might force Jed York to expedite his next move."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee lists Jon Gruden, Jim Harbaugh and Brian Billick as likely candidates to replace Singletary.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Troy Smith needs to do a better job avoiding sacks. Branch: "Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said Troy Smith was responsible for at least three of the six sacks the Niners allowed against Tampa Bay, which had managed eight sacks in its first nine games. On two occasions, Smith held the ball too long and on another occasion he rolled out and, instead of throwing the ball away, ran out of bounds for a two-yard loss, which goes as a sack in the stat book."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says Singletary appears to hold the Cardinals in low regard. Also from Kawakami: "If John and Jed York really want to change the culture -- and GET A QUARTERBACK --they’d have to spotlight the offensive wizard in Stanford, which also happened with Eddie D more than 30 years ago. And if the Two JYs don’t check out Harbaugh because they’re either scared of the money terms or don’t want to change up their Jed/Paraag Marathe/Lal Heneghan/Trent Baalke bland hierarchy, then we’ll know things aren’t likely to change for a great while."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Justin Forsett, the only Seattle running back on the roster from last season, has played well when called upon for the Seahawks.

Also from Farnsworth: a look at roster moves Seattle made Tuesday.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the relationship between Pete Carroll and Matt Hasselbeck resembled an arranged marriage, but that doesn't mean it cannot work.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune posts Brian McIntyre's weekly snap counts and personnel notes for Seattle. McIntyre: "Against Seattle’s base defense, Drew Brees completed 14-of-24 pass attempts for 175 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interception. Brees was 6-for-7 for 91 yards against the Seahawks’ “Bandit” package, converting 5-of-7 third down conversion attempts. Brees was 5-for-6 for 85 yards and a touchdown when Seattle was in dime, 3-for-5 for 27 yards against nickel and 1-for-1 for 3 yards and a touchdown against Seattle’s short-yardage package."

Also from Williams: a look at the Seahawks' issues in the red zone on offense.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks should win the NFC West this season. Boyle: "With six games left on the schedule, the Seahawks are alone in first place in football’s worst division. They play four of those six games at Qwest Field and the team closest in the standings, St. Louis, has to come to Seattle at the end of the season. So we should no longer be asking if the Seahawks can make the playoffs; the discussion should instead be what a disappointment it would be if they don’t."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, who says the team will fight through its current struggles. Bidwill: "I'm a fan and this is really frustrating to all of us. I know the guys are working hard and we're trying to get this thing rectified. The good news is we're only two games out of first, but we have to focus on getting out there on Monday [vs. the 49ers], against an NFC West opponent, and take care of business."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals' roster moves suggest the team expects LaRod Stephens-Howling and Jason Wright to return from injuries.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says he sees Larry Fitzgerald re-signing with the Cardinals as the most likely scenario. I think that depends largely on what the team does at quarterback before Fitzgerald's contract expires following the 2011 season.