NFC West: Joe Barry
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals conquered the Panthers and their own demons in advancing to the NFC title game.
Also from Somers: The Cardinals are getting it done on both lines.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' victory felt as good as "eliminating the Spurs, sweeping the Dodgers and learning the Cowboys were bankrupt. It was the karmic reward for all those terrible afternoons spent on the wrong end of the scoreboard."
Also from Bickley: The Cardinals continue to relish the underdog role.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says Larry Fitzgerald met the challenge after learning teammate Anquan Boldin would not play. In addition to producing on the field, Fitzgerald was more vocal on the sideline.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals' defense settled down after a poor start. As a result, Boldin might be able to play again this season after all.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' defensive front seven rose to the challenges against a strong ground game for the second consecutive week.
Also from Tulumello: The Cardinals as Cinderella.
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' victory over the Panthers gives fans reason to dream. Yes, the team stands one victory away from the Super Bowl.
Also from Bordow: The Panthers paid a high price for letting Fitzgerald roam free.
Scott Allen of Raising Zona dares anyone to call the Cardinals the worst team in playoff history.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Joe Barry is the Seahawks' new linebackers coach, according to NFL Network.
Also from O'Neil: Casey Bradley is the Seahawks' defensive coordinator four years after coaching at North Dakota State.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' hiring of Bradley isn't a case of team president Tim Ruskell reaching back to his Tampa roots because Bradley and Ruskell were never with the Bucs at the same time.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes sources as saying Vikings assistant Leslie Frazier is a finalist to become the Rams' head coach.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch advocates Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo for the Rams' job. Burwell: "Spagnuolo is on the top of a lot of shopping lists. And when the man in charge of the Rams' coaching hunt says things such as, 'He's one of the best,' and 'we go way back,' that sounds a heck of a lot more like a stacked deck than any perceived advantage [Jim] Haslett has going for him."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat gives the Rams' secondary a C-minus grade for its performance during the 2008 season.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Rob Chudzinski might return the tight end to the passing game if the 49ers hired him as offensive coordinator.Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News provides background on Chudzinski, including a quote from when the Browns made Chudzinski their offensive coordinator. Chudzinski then: "I've always been around and been exposed to attacking-style offenses that are built on a balance of run and pass and that utilize the talents of the guys that are part of that offense. Giving those guys a chance to make plays for you in an attacking style is basically what we've talked primarily about."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee isn't buying Tim Tebow as a potential 49ers savior.