Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch

By Mike Sando

NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks RB. Two lost fumbles and two dropped passes (one of them on a pass that was tough to handle) prevented Seattle's offense from exploiting the New Orleans Saints' defense any further. The Seahawks passed the ball almost at will, particularly when Mike Williams was in the game, and Lynch averaged 5.1 yards per carry. The turnovers and dropped passes hurt. Lynch was fighting for extra yardage at the expense of ball security. The team replaced him after the second fumble.

2. Troy Smith, 49ers QB. Smith took too many sacks and struggled when Tampa Bay forced him to remain in the pocket. The game plan was arguably too conservative, but Smith did not maximize opportunities. He could have used better protection and more from the running game, too. Smith threw an interception for the first time since replacing Alex Smith as a starter.

3. Ben Patrick, Cardinals TE. The Cardinals have always wanted Patrick to emerge. Instead, Patrick has faded. Arizona replaced Patrick in the starting lineup Sunday even though they opened the game with two tight ends (former Cardinal Leonard Pope even started for Kansas City). When they took over possession near midfield late in the third quarter, a holding penalty against Patrick contributed to the drive stalling. Arizona trailed 21-6 at the time. A touchdown drive would have gotten the Cardinals back into the game. Patrick previously committed a holding penalty on the Cardinals' first drive at Minnesota.

RISING

Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck's stock is soaring following back-to-back games of over 300 yards passing.
1. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks QB. The quarterback's second consecutive prolific passing performance suggests he could be positioned to finish strong this season. Hasselbeck has 699 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions over his last two games, helping to establish Seattle as the division favorite. No player's stock has risen so sharply in recent weeks.

2. Brandon Gibson, Rams WR. The second-year pro has 19 receptions and one touchdown over the Rams' last three games. The team needed someone to emerge after losing Mark Clayton to a season-ending knee injury. Gibson has helped fill some of the void. His leaping 13-yard touchdown grab against the Atlanta Falcons gave the Rams a 17-16 lead in the third quarter.

3. Ben Obomanu, Seahawks WR. Something has clicked between Obomanu and Hasselbeck. It's easy to forget that the two have been on the same team since 2006. Obomanu has nine catches for 147 yards and a touchdown over the last two games. He ranks tied for the team lead with three touchdowns this season. He averages 15.4 yards per reception and made a nice adjustment to grab a 42-yarder against the Saints.