Around the NFC West: Cardinals magic

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin hopes to play against the Eagles after a hamstring injury sidelined him in the divisional round.

Also from Somers: A force greater than the Cardinals seems to be at work in what is becoming a magical season for Arizona.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are at their best when critics show them no love.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic anticipates a cathartic experience for Cardinals fans when the team faces the Eagles in the NFC title game. Bickley: "The road to a Super Bowl goes through Glendale, where you are free to influence the outcome. You will channel 20-plus years of torture into a single voice, and it will be the most powerful sporting event this state has ever seen."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves mingled with fans waiting in line to purchase tickets to the NFC title game.

Also from Urban: A surge of traffic to the team's Web site prevented him from blogging for a time Sunday. A good problem to have.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Phoenix area has rarely seen a team such as the Cardinals. The 1996 Arizona State team, which went from 6-5 the previous season to 11-1 and on the verge of a national title, might come close.

The 49ers' Web site carries a statement addressing speculation about the team's inability to secure a new stadium. The statement reads, in part: "Although our opening day target may need to be adjusted as part of the term sheet, the 49ers ownership group continues to remain committed to building a new NFL stadium in Santa Clara and is spending significant resources to make this goal a reality."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat describes Rob Chudzinski as an up-and-coming offensive coach while questioning whether he would fit into Mike Singletary's plans for the 49ers' offense.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says only two teams -- Denver and Jacksonville -- forced fewer turnovers than the 49ers during the regular season. Barrows: "The common denominator among the teams that are advancing [in the playoffs] is not that they can consistently run the ball but that they have been excellent on defense and are forcing timely turnovers."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Giants' loss clears the way for teams to interview defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as a head coaching candidate. It remains unclear where Spagnuolo might fit in the Rams' coaching search. Rex Ryan interviewed Sunday. Meanwhile, the team will interview the 49ers' Mike Williams as a candidate for director of pro personnel.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat gives the Rams' specialists an A-minus grade for their performance during the 2008 season.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says John Marshall and Dwaine Board likely will not return to the Seahawks' defensive staff after the team hired Casey "Gus" Bradley and Joe Barry. The Seahawks advised Marshall, Board and other assistants to consider options elsewhere.

William Tomisser of Seahawk Addicts summarizes his recent positional breakdown of the Seahawks.