- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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1. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams coach. The Rams went 0-2 against Seattle and Arizona during their recently completed two-game homestand, likely the Rams' best remaining chance to get something going under their embattled coach. The Rams created turnovers and built early leads in both games, but they were too fragile to withstand any challenges from their opponents. Allowing 268 yards rushing against the Cardinals left the Rams appearing helplessly overmatched at home against a previously 3-7 team with John Skelton at quarterback. The team now must play 9-2 San Francisco (twice), 8-3 Pittsburgh, 7-4 Cincinnati and the same Seattle team that dominated the Rams in the Edward Jones Dome.
2. Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks receiver. The team's leading receiver from 2010 dropped passes and did not adjust to his scrambling quarterback during a 23-17 home defeat to the Washington Redskins. Williams' career revival made for an appealing storyline last season. Lately, though, Williams is more closely resembling the disappointing player he became earlier in his career. He finished with zero receptions against the Redskins.
3. Braylon Edwards, San Francisco 49ers receiver. Injuries have played a role in Edwards' struggles lately. Still, he's squandered chances to make plays. The 49ers could have used Edwards to fight for position and the ball to prevent Alex Smith's deep pass from being intercepted shortly before halftime during the team's 16-6 defeat at Baltimore. Edwards attributed the play to a misunderstanding with Smith over the best route to run against the Ravens' coverage on the play. Edwards has only 14 catches this season. His yards per reception have fallen from 17.1 with the New York Jets last season to 12.3 in 2011.
1. Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals running back. Wells had rushed for 198 yards over his previous four games before gashing the Rams for a franchise-record 228 yards Sunday. The total was the second-highest in the NFL this season, trailing only the 253 yards Dallas' DeMarco Murray racked up against ... yes, the Rams. Wells' 8.44-yard average per carry was the most since 1960 for a Cardinals player with at least 25 attempts in a game. Wayne Morris set the previous record (6.56) against Minnesota in 1977.
2. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals return specialist. Peterson's 80-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Rams gave him four of that distance or longer in only 11 games as a professional. Peterson is one of six players in league history with four punt returns for touchdowns covering at least 80 yards apiece. He needed only 31 returns to do it. Devin Hester has five in 197 career returns. Peterson and Hall of Famer Jack Christiansen are the only players with four punt returns for touchdowns during their rookie seasons. Christiansen did it in 1951.
3. Sam Acho, Cardinals outside linebacker. The rookie fourth-round draft choice has five sacks since Week 7 after collecting two against the Rams. Arizona badly needed to develop young outside pass-rushers this season. Acho has made a positive impression during his first five starts. The team should know by season's end whether Acho projects as a starter for years to come. With Acho developing, it's looking like Joey Porter has played his final game for the Cardinals.
FALLING1. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams coach. The Rams went 0-2 against Seattle and Arizona during their recently completed two-game homestand, likely the Rams' best remaining chance to get something going under their embattled coach.