Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
NFC West Stock Watch

By Mike Sando

FALLING

1. 48th U.S. state. That would be Arizona, home of the only team in NFL history to lose a game by a 58-0 final score. The Cardinals' performance against Seattle was so bad, the Seahawks scored a touchdown even after they punted. Twice. Seattle scored more points from those two punts than the Cardinals have scored in their last 10 quarters.

2. Brandon Jacobs, 49ers RB. Jacobs complained about his lack of playing time until the 49ers suspended him for the final three regular-season games. Jacobs figures to lose salary. His value in free agency could take a hit. Jacobs will be 31 before next season, so there are no guarantees another team will give him a spot on its 53-man roster.

3. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals return man. Peterson was already struggling to duplicate his record-setting performance in 2011, when he returned four punts for touchdowns. His turnovers during two returns handed 14 points to the Seahawks. Peterson is averaging 8.3 yards per return, down from 15.9 last season. He has six fumbles, twice as many as last season. He has four returns of 20-plus yards (eight last season) and zero returns of 40-plus yards (five in 2011).

4. Cardinals offensive staff. Coach Ken Whisenhunt's status took a hit in previous stock watches. Losing 58-0 amplifies questions about his job status. No matter what happens, Whisenhunt and his offensive staff will emerge from 2012 with lower profiles. Struggling is one thing. Going from awful to worse is another. Whisenhunt, line coach Russ Grimm, coordinator Mike Miller and quarterbacks coach John McNulty will want to omit this season from their résumés.

RISING

1. Brandon Gibson, Rams WR. Gibson caught six passes for 100 yards and the game-winning touchdown against Buffalo, helping St. Louis to its first three-game winning streak since 2006. Gibson has taken heat around here for past failures, including when his penalty wiped out an 80-yard overtime reception during an eventual tie at San Francisco. It's only fair, then, that Gibson get his due when it's earned. Gibson caught two passes for 37 yards on third down, including a 15-yarder on third-and-10 during the final drive.

2. Chris Culliver, 49ers CB. Niners outside linebacker Aldon Smith has commanded much of the attention while threatening Michael Strahan's single-season NFL record for sacks since 1982. His stock was already high, of course. Culliver deserves acknowledgement for the aggressive, effective play he provides on a weekly basis. If he gave up a reception during the 49ers' 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 14, I did not see it.

3. Anthony McCoy, Seahawks TE. The final score in Seattle got most of the attention. There was plenty of credit to go around in Seattle. McCoy's first 100-yard receiving game could be a good sign for the Seahawks. McCoy made an important catch to help beat Chicago on the road last week. His 67-yard reception against the Cardinals set up Marshawn Lynch's touchdown run for a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. Arizona hadn't scored more than 17 points in seven of its previous eight games.

4. Michael Brockers, Rams DT. The Rams face Minnesota's incomparable Adrian Peterson, which means their run defense is going to take a hit. Before that happens, let's acknowledge one of the best rookies in the NFC West so far this season. Defensive tackles generally don't get much attention unless they're piling up sacks. Brockers deserves some for the physical presence he has brought to the Rams' defensive line. A violent open-field tackle near the goal line against Buffalo stood out.