Friday, October 29, 2010
Final Word: NFC West
By Mike Sando
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:
Too early to sit down Hall. Kurt Warner generously said he saw a little of himself in new Arizona Cardinals quarterback Max Hall. That was before Hall played in a game. Hall hasn't led a touchdown drive in any of his 25 possessions. Warner, meanwhile, tossed 21 touchdown passes with only three interceptions in his first eight NFL starts. Even so, the Cardinals are right to stick with Hall in Week 8 amid negative reviews. Once the Cardinals made the decision to give Hall a chance, they needed to give him more than two games. Hall does own a 1-1 starting record. There's a decent chance that record will hit 2-1 after facing Tampa Bay. Plenty of time remains to bench Hall if he doesn't improve. It could happen Sunday if Hall falters.
Chris Clemons returned to Oakland, where he had his best season as a pass-rusher in 2007.
Oakland homecomings. The Seahawks' game at Oakland could mean a little more to three of Seattle's most significant players. Running back Marshawn Lynch, acquired from Buffalo, grew up in Oakland and sports an "OAKLAND" tattoo across his chest. Mike Williams, the Seahawks' leading receiver, started one of the six games he played for the Raiders in 2007. Defensive end Chris Clemons set a career season high with eight sacks for the Raiders, also in 2007. Clemons already has 5.5 sacks in six games since the Seahawks acquired him from Philadelphia. That puts Clemons on pace for 14.5 sacks. Oakland has allowed seven in its past two home games (and only four in its past two road games).
Saluting Isaac Bruce. The Rams are honoring one of their all-time greats, Isaac Bruce, during a ceremony before the game. Unfortunately for rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, Bruce might be good enough in retirement to help the Rams against Carolina in Week 8. Bradford badly missed injured receiver Mark Clayton when the Rams needed to make a play in the second half against Tampa Bay. Danario Alexander provided a short-term spark, but his knee is bothering him and he might not play Sunday. Danny Amendola has turned into a solid option from the slot, but Bradford needs more targets. With Bruce in the building and Steve Smith returning to the Panthers' lineup last week, top-flight receivers will be everywhere in the Edward Jones Dome except where the Rams need one most: in a St. Louis uniform.
Must-win for the Rams. Sure, it's only Week 8, but after squandering opportunities in close defeats to beatable opponents (Arizona, Oakland and Tampa Bay), the Rams are just about finished with the easier portion of their schedule. Losing at home to the 1-5 Panthers could send this team plummeting following its bye week. The Rams play four of five games on the road following their Week 9 bye. The lone home game falls against Atlanta, arguably the best team in the NFC.