Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Kurt Warner as the former Rams and Cardinals quarterback prepares to provide analysis for the Fox broadcast of the St. Louis-Arizona game Sunday. Warner: "Oh, man, there's some ugly football in the NFC West, that's first and foremost. I know we've been bad for a while, but at least there always were a couple teams that were pretty [competitive]. Right now its pretty hard to watch, most of the teams have been pretty uncompetitive when it comes to playing against good teams in the league. It's almost like somebody's going to win this thing by default more than earning it and going and taking it.'' Not that Warner's retirement has had anything to do with the drop in quality.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Broncos roughed up Rams running back Steven Jackson to a degree he had not experienced this season. Jackson: "They played a lot of old New England-style of football. I don't know about the receivers, but they banged me around a lot in the flats or just checking me over the ball. They were making sure to get a body on me."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revisits the idea that Sam Bradford has played well in the clutch for the Rams. Miklasz: "There is a noticeable difference in the Rams' playcalling after halftime. In the first half, the Rams attempt passes on 62 percent of their plays, which is the 9th-highest rate in the NFL. In the second half, the Rams pass it on 56 percent of their downs. That may not seem significant, but it is in terms of the league rankings. The Rams rank 17th in the league in percentage of passes called in the 2nd half." The Rams have outscored opponents 137-104 in first halves. They have played teams about evenly in third quarters, getting outscored 40-38. Opponents have outscored the Rams 84-38 in fourth quarters.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Billy Bajema has turned into a good receiving tight end for the Rams.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com looks at the Rams' offense. Jackson: "I think at this point now I understand that a lot of my role now is to keep a defense honest. That’s not to say I’m not going to play hard or be the back I know I can be. But defenses game plan to stop our running game first…so I would love to have 100 yards, I would love to have big games but at the same time, if the defense is that focused on the running game, I think we have come out with a win already and now we just have to execute through the air."
Also from Wagoner: Danario Alexander adds a dimension to the Rams' offense.
Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says Jackson leads the NFL in scrimmage yards since 2006, but the numbers come with a catch.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Ben Obomanu has added a big-play element to Seattle's passing game. Matt Hasselbeck: "Ben has done a nice job of going up and getting the ball when given opportunities. You see sometimes around the league receivers going up and making a play on a smaller DB. Ben has done a great job with it. I think there are a handful of routes that he does really, really well -- that he does better than anybody on our team. The route that he keeps catching, that’s been a big one for him. So hopefully we can get that dialed up again."
Also from Farnsworth: Seattle's special teams have shined this season.
Rod Mar of seahawks.com offers photos from practice Thursday.
Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest previews the Seahawks' matchup with the Panthers' defense. Farrar: "Carolina runs a 4-3 base defense with linebackers who can backpedal and make plays in space; as a result, they throw a lot of different zone looks at enemy offenses, and they’re more assignment-correct than you might expect. In their 16-14 loss to the Saints in Week 4, the Panthers were able to effectively counter a short passing game not unlike what the Seahawks might send out there if Mike Williams can go."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times asks Marshawn Lynch about the Seahawks' last-ranked rushing offense. Lynch: "I just think we're struggling right now as a team in putting together a win. So I don't see it as a running-game thing. You get down in the game, and the quickest way to the end zone is a pass so you get put in a positions, I feel like we put more emphasis on getting a quick score. That's kind of how I take what's been going on."
Also from O'Neil: a chat transcript featuring Seattle receiver Mike Williams, who identifies Al Harris as the toughest corner to face in the NFL. Williams: "He's the only corner I've played against that you have to work every single down." Williams is entertaining during this chat. Definitely worth a read.
More from O'Neil: a look at what has gone wrong with Seattle's run defense.
Gerry Spratt of seattlepi.com says Chris Clemons returned to practice, but Williams continued to miss time.
Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle links to audio from interviews with Matt Hasselbeck and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks think they have the best special teams in the league.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are pleased with their kickoff-return team led by LaRod Stephens-Howling. Somers: "The problem is that the kick return unit is getting a lot of work. Stephens-Howling leads the NFL with 44 returns. Cardinals opponents have kicked off 70 times, which also leads the NFL."
Also from Somers: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has his superstitions. Meanwhile, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie admits he's not getting the job done. Rodgers-Cromartie: "I ain't comin' to play. I do everything I got to do during the week, look at the film, breaking everything down, it's just not showing up on Sunday. I can't put my finger on (why), not when you're doing everything right."
More from Somers: a look at the Cardinals' matchup against St. Louis. Somers: "The Cardinals' front seven was awful in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week. Dockett is the team's best lineman and the Cardinals need a game-changing performance from Dockett. He is struggling with stinger that has sapped some strength from his left arm. Dockett is playing through it, but the Cardinals need more than just his presence."
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic looks at how Cardinals players are dealing with the team's six-game losing streak.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Larry Fitzgerald needs five receptions to become the Cardinals' career leader. Whisenhunt: "This hasn’t been a very good year for any of us, but Larry has continued to work. Listen, go back to the first game against (the Rams), he could barely run and he was out there fighting and made a big catch for us in the fourth quarter. That’s who Larry is. If we are going to get out of this funk, that’s when it is important to have guys like Larry. There is no question he is one of the best in the league. To have someone out here working every day, that fights, that is positive, that wants to be a part of it, it goes a long way."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' Frank Gore probably suffered his hip injury on his first carry of the game Monday night. Maiocco: "After that first series, Gore was led back to the locker room for an external examination, the team says. He had full range of motion in his right hip. He had strength in the hip, and Gore said he felt good enough to continue playing. No X-rays were taking for those reasons. And the club says he was not given a painkilling injection. When Gore returned to action later in the first quarter, he carried for 9 yards up the middle. He had another 5-yard carry that was nullified by an offside penalty. At that point, the pain became too much and Gore did not return."
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers signed kicker Jeff Reed.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers have altered their schedule while dealing with a rough stretch. Barrows: "The travel schedule also has been changed to allow players maximum recovery from the Monday night game. Instead of travelling on Friday -- that's when they went to Kansas City -- the team doesn't take off for Green Bay until Saturday. The 49ers will keep the same schedule when they travel to St. Louis, another 10 a.m. start in a Midwest city, later this month."
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers rookie Anthony Davis faces a tough matchup against Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Davis will have help. Davis: ""I don't really want to talk about it. I'm just going to keep getting better, you know what I'm saying?"