How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch

December, 22, 2009
12/22/09
11:00
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Jim Mora, Seahawks coach. Losing at home to the Bucs would hurt any coach's stock. Mora suffered another indignity when a report suggested former coach Mike Holmgren declined the team's offer to return as an executive in part because the organization wanted him to keep Mora for at least another season. Mora, it turns out, had sent a letter to team CEO Tod Leiweke praising Holmgren and endorsing his former boss' return. As much as the Seahawks want to support Mora for the long term, non-competitive performances in the final two games could erode confidence in his ability to lead the team.

2. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks QB. After losing several games in spite of Hasselbeck's efforts, the Seahawks lost a game because of his mistakes. Four interceptions and an inexcusable lateral attempt following a scramble were pivotal in the Seahawks' most embarrassing defeat of the season. Hasselbeck had not thrown four interceptions, his career high, since a 2004 game against the Cardinals. The Seahawks will need him to be much more careful in Week 16. They visit Green Bay for a game against a Packers defense ranked second in yards allowed and interception rate.

3. Alex Smith, 49ers QB. Coach Mike Singletary made some worthy points in defending Smith following the quarterback's three-interception performance against the Eagles. While Smith wasn't totally at fault for all the turnovers, he struggled overall. Smith completed 20 of 37 passes for 177 yards, one touchdown and a 42.3 rating. The 49ers averaged more yards per rush than per pass. Smith should bounce back over the final two games of the season. San Francisco finishes the season at home against the Lions and at the Rams.

Rising

Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesArizona rookie running back Beanie Wells notched his first 100-yard rushing game on Sunday.

1. Beanie Wells, Cardinals RB. Steven Jackson and Frank Gore aren't the only physical runners with breakaway potential in the NFC West. Wells continues to emerge. He topped 100 yards against the Lions, his first 100-yard game in the NFL. Wells has 189 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. Wells has averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry in six of the Cardinals' past eight games. He usually seems to fall forward for extra yardage, another plus.

2. Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals coach. With two home games remaining, including one Sunday against the Rams, Whisenhunt will almost certainly lead the Cardinals to at least 10 victories, a significant milestone for the organization. And if the Cardinals again enjoy playoff success, Whisenhunt's contract situation could become a hotter topic. Whisenhunt is finishing the third year of a four-year deal featuring a club option for a fifth season.

3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cardinals CB. A few other NFC West players could have qualified for mention in this spot, Gore and Rams quarterback Keith Null among them. But the Cardinals were the only NFC West team to win in Week 15, making Rodgers-Cromartie the choice. "DRC" picked off two passes against the Lions, doubling his interception total for the season. He finished with four passes defensed, a season high, giving him 10 in the Cardinals past four games.

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