Around the NFC West: Cards can tighten grip

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are in uncharted territory, attempting to tighten their grip on the division race at midseason.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are opening an important three-game tour of the NFC West. They face the Rams, 49ers and Seahawks.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune quotes Kurt Warner as saying he might be playing as well as he ever has.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams face a make-or-break game against the Cardinals.

Also from Korte: Grant Wistrom and other former Rams players will be in attendance when the team honors Dick Vermeil at the Edward Jones Dome.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sizes up the Rams' chances in the NFC West if they beat the Cardinals. Coach Jim Haslett hasn't said much to the players about it. They know.

Also from Thomas: Rams guard Richie Incognito and Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett don't like one another very much. They'll match up again in Week 9. Incognito is coming off his best game of the season.

More from Thomas: Both passing games have the edge in this matchup.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Cardinals' ability to win without leaning on the ground game. Arizona ran the ball fairly well at times this season, particularly against the 49ers in the opener. But this is a pass-happy team right now.

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle says Mike Singletary is missing the point if he thinks intensity is the problem for the 49ers. As evidence, Ostler quotes the late Bill Walsh, who said execution is the key and intensity is overrated.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle takes an in-depth look at Jed York's rise as 49ers owner. York says general manager Scot McCloughan is part of the team's long-term future, but the story doesn't say much about Singletary's future.

Also from FitzGerald: Eddie DeBartolo gives his nephew a vote of confidence as 49ers owner.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says it's easy finding Jeff Ulbrich's car at 49ers headquarters. It's the only Prius in the lot.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee gives the 49ers an "A" grade on special teams to this point, but the overall grade is a "D" after a 2-6 start.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat names Frank Gore and Patrick Willis as the 49ers' most valuable players after eight games. J.T. O'Sullivan and Manny Lawson are the biggest disappointments. The pass Seattle's Josh Wilson returned for a touchdown stands out as the worst play of the season so far.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe polls players and coaches as to whether Singletary's approach has staying power. Former linebacker Chad Brown thinks a veteran team wouldn't be as receptive.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune quotes "Dumb and Dumber" in making a case for the Seahawks possibly earning a playoff berth this season.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune applauds Singletary's unconventional tactics, figuring the coach is in a lose-lose situation, so he might as well try something new.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times previews the Eagles-Seahawks game, noting that the Eagles have been far more effective in turnover differential.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Singletary was exposed as a coach even before dropping his drawers at halftime. Specifically, the decision to go for it on fourth down before halftime backfired.

Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks need a boost from their home crowd to hang with the Eagles.