NFC West: NFC West stock watch 20

NFC West stock watch: rising

January, 20, 2009
1/20/09
3:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

1. The Cardinals organization. The rest of the NFC West can no longer dismiss the Cardinals' success as insignificant to the future of the division. Arizona is the team to beat until further notice. Most Cardinals coaches, executives and players belong on this list, but we'll focus only on those who have gained the most recently.

2. Ken Whisenhunt, head coach, Cardinals. This is his team, no doubt about it. Not many coaches could hold their ground against Anquan Boldin during the offseason, bench a former MVP quarterback, restore said quarterback, bench Edgerrin James, restore James -- all while taking a previously floundering franchise to the Super Bowl.

3. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Fitzgerald already owns the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single postseason, and he is not finished.

4. Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals. It's getting harder to rule him out as a Hall of Fame candidate.

5. Billy Devaney, general manager, Rams. The Rams aren't a flagship franchise at this point, but Devaney still managed to land one of the hotter coaching candidates in recent seasons. Steve Spagnuolo brings a Super Bowl ring to the sideline, just as Whisenhunt did in Arizona.

6/7. Russ Grimm and Todd Haley, Cardinals assistants. Arizona's 2-4 record to close the regular season hurt their short-term standing as head coaching candidates. But with the Cardinals in the Super Bowl, Grimm and Haley should have more opportunities in the future.

8. Jim Mora, head coach, Seahawks. He goes from being virtually invisible as an assistant coach to the top spot.

9. Adrian Wilson, safety, Cardinals. Seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the NFC Championship Game affirmed his status as one of the game's top safeties.

10. Deuce Lutui, guard, Cardinals. We've pointed out his penalty-prone ways in the past, but Lutui has stepped up his game. He made a key block on the Eagles' Chris Gocong during a critical fourth-and-1 pickup on the winning drive. Lutui took then took out Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, allowing Tim Hightower to score the go-ahead touchdown.

NFC West stock watch: falling

January, 20, 2009
1/20/09
2:46
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

1. Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals. Though Boldin has been the epitome of a team player during his career, he left the opposite impression by feuding with offensive coordinator Todd Haley during the NFC Championship Game and then reportedly skipping the postgame celebration. The Cardinals won't feel pressure to rework Boldin's contract if these perceptions linger.

2. Mike Holmgren's Seattle staff. The Seahawks flushed out both of Holmgren's coordinators, Gil Haskell and John Marshall, plus position coaches Keith Gilbertson and Dwaine Board.

3. Mike Singletary, head coach, 49ers. Scott Linehan turned down his offer to become offensive coordinator, and it's unclear whether Singletary has a viable backup plan.

4. Jim Haslett, former interim coach, Rams. The Rams left the impression Haslett would be a serious candidate to keep the job, but they clearly wanted to hire Steve Spagnuolo or Leslie Frazier. In the meantime, the Packers hired Dom Capers over Haslett as their defensive coordinator.

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