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Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Rules changes should make West wilder

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Seahawks Fan
Seattle's 12th Man has come in handy for the team recently, by way of noise-related penalties.
"Stadiums will now be free to rile up crowds with video displays, and public-address announcers will no longer be restrained from inciting racket when the opposing offense faces a crucial third down." -- the Wall Street Journal

It's unclear how much louder CenturyLink Field can become, but a few well-timed highlights featuring knockout hits from Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor should help us find out.

Likewise, shots of Tony Romo's infamous botched hold against Seattle in the playoffs years ago should come in handy when Romo is breaking the huddle at CenturyLink for the Seahawks' home opener this year.

Think San Francisco 49ers fans might want to revisit 2011 video from the team's five sacks on Matthew Stafford right before Stafford breaks the huddle at Candlestick Park for the Sept. 16 home opener this year? Bank on it.

Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium was tough on visitors during the Cardinals' playoff runs a few years back. Watching Sam Acho's fumble-forcing sack on Tarvaris Jackson from Week 17 last season should help enliven the atmosphere when Seattle visits Arizona for the opener.

Under the new rules, we should expect visiting offenses to suffer from additional noise-related penalties. San Francisco and Seattle already fielded formidable defenses last season. Arizona's defense reached that point late in the season. St. Louis expects marked improvement on that side of the ball under a new coaching staff, and with a healthier defense featuring personnel additions.

The Seahawks have boasted about ranking among the NFL leaders in false starts by visiting opponents. They should have additional opportunities to pad those numbers.

A few additional thoughts on the NFL's efforts to close the gap between surging TV ratings and sagging attendance through an improved stadium experience: