NFC West: the night ahead

The night ahead: Bracing for prime time

December, 27, 2010
12/27/10
6:00
PM ET
I'm heading back to Seattle from St. Louis as the nation eagerly anticipates seeing the NFC West in prime time Sunday.

My early read on the St. Louis Rams' Week 17 game against the Seattle Seahawks for a playoff spot:

This should be Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's time to shine on a national stage for the first time since leaving Oklahoma. He doesn't necessarily have the offensive weapons to make it happen, and the hostile environment at Qwest Field will present challenges if the Seahawks play at least reasonably well, but that is one potential storyline to anticipate.

Bradford's confidence should be high after he completed 71 percent of his passes for 292 yards, one touchdown and a 107.0 rating against San Francisco. Seattle just allowed five scoring passes to Josh Freeman. Some of that surely had to do with the fact that Seattle knew its game against Tampa Bay meant nothing in the standings. Even without that game, the Seahawks had allowed 26 scoring passes while intercepting 11.

Your thoughts on this Rams-Seahawks game? I'll revisit them on the blog this week and add my own follow-up thoughts.

The night ahead: Bound for Arizona

October, 9, 2010
10/09/10
7:50
PM ET
Covering Arizona against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5 was the plan even before Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt named Max Hall his starting quarterback.

Hall's emergence makes the trip more interesting (I'll be boarding a plane for Phoenix momentarily).

The Cardinals will have gone through four starting quarterbacks in about 10 months. Kurt Warner retired. Matt Leinart lasted the offseason and two exhibition games as the starter. Derek Anderson lasted two exhibition games and three-plus regular season games.

Hall took over in Week 4. How long will the Cardinals give him? An undrafted rookie free agent will need time to develop. Benching Hall after two or three starts wouldn't seem like much of a long-term plan. But the pressure to win in the short term is always strong.

These situations tend to work themselves out, however. Hall might not hold up physically if he takes as much punishment as the much bigger Anderson has taken this season. He might provide a spark and immediately show signs of developing into at least a solid No. 2 quarterback next season.

The unknown makes this game more appealing than it would have been if Whisenhunt had stuck with Anderson for another week.

Why the 49ers cut a promising pass-rusher

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
5:51
PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- Outside linebacker Diyral Briggs was one of the San Francisco 49ers' more impressive pass-rushers during portions of the exhibition season.

The team cut him Monday, making room on the roster for Tramaine Brock, a cornerback signed from the practice squad.

Briggs could return to the roster, but why risk losing a once-promising pass-rusher? Briggs faded as the exhibition season concluded, and the 49ers now have depth at the position with Ahmad Brooks returning from a lacerated kidney and Travis LaBoy playing effectively. The 49ers also needed another cornerback while Will James fights through injury.

Seems to me another team could do worse than giving Briggs a look (not that, say, Seattle has shown any interest in 49ers castoffs lately).
Three NFC West exhibition games kickoff 30 minutes apart beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Attending all three games wasn't an option.

My backup plan calls for watching each game on one screen via NFL Preseason Live. We'll see how well it works, but right now I'm watching both ongoing exhibition games -- Browns-Lions and Bengals-Bills -- on one screen without any complications.

The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings are first up at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Arizona Cardinals-Chicago Bears at 8:30 and San Francisco 49ers-Oakland Raiders at 9.

Earlier: Four Downs looks at key storylines for each game.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are finished with the two-a-day portion of training camp and I'll be heading home Thursday.

I've filled notebooks and conducted a long list of interviews over the last several days. Next up: processing the information beginning Wednesday night. A Camp Confidential report will appear on the blog before the week is out, plus several other Rams-related items stemming from this visit.

My feel for the team has improved tremendously and hopefully that will show as the season progresses.

I was about to list five observations from camp in the space below, but then what would go in the "Observation deck" section of the Camp Confidential? The suspense builds.

On second thought, here's one for the road: Sam Bradford looks the part, players are excited about him and it'll be an upset if the No. 1 overall choice doesn't start in Week 1.

The night ahead

October, 26, 2009
10/26/09
4:54
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

HOUSTON -- It's been a productive trip to Houston given all the 49ers-related news that came out of here in Week 7.

I'm about to board a plane home.

Power rankings will publish right here Tuesday. Arizona moves into the top 10 on my ballot.

Where should the other NFC West teams wind up? I'll check back here Monday night before filing my rankings.

Earlier: Power rankings revisited.

The night ahead

September, 6, 2008
9/06/08
6:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

I'm heading for the Bay Area tonight for the Cardinals-49ers game Sunday. The goal here is to see as many division teams as possible.

NFC West teams face each other early and often this season. The 49ers visit Seattle in Week 2. The Rams visit Seattle in Week 3. Barring the unforeseen, I expect to see all four division teams in the first three weeks of the season.

The night ahead

August, 25, 2008
8/25/08
7:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

I'll be watching the Seahawks-Chargers game on TV tonight. Our own Bill Williamson will be filing reports from the game from a Chargers perspective. I'll revisit pertinent roster issues Tuesday as the Seahawks and Rams comply with the 75-man limit.

The night ahead

August, 16, 2008
8/16/08
6:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

I'll be heading to Qwest Field in Seattle for the Bears-Seahawks exhibition game tonight. Expect a few updates and observations as the night progresses. The DVR is also working overtime this weekend. I'll get to the other games involving NFC West teams once I've got them on video. Then it's off to 49ers camp to check in with the quarterback situation early in the week.

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