NFC West Stock Watch


1. Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner face potential four-game suspensions for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs. News of their troubles broke shortly after Seattle suffered a 24-21 defeat at the Miami Dolphins. That defeat damaged the Seahawks' pursuit of a playoff berth. Losing Sherman and/or Browner down the stretch would further compromise those chances.

2. Ryan Lindley, Arizona Cardinals QB. Lindley played well for stretches of the first half, but his four interceptions doomed Arizona to its seventh consecutive defeat, this one by a 31-17 margin to the St. Louis Rams at home. Lindley has yet to throw a touchdown pass in six-plus quarters since replacing John Skelton. He has completed 4 of 17 passes with three picks when targeting top receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

3. Ted Ginn Jr., San Francisco 49ers WR. The usually reliable returns specialist muffed a punt against the New Orleans Saints, setting up the Saints for a first-half touchdown. The miscue threatened to turn momentum after a quick start by the 49ers. Coaches replaced Ginn with Kyle Williams, only to lose Williams to a knee injury later in the game. Ginn has three fumbles in punt and kickoff returns this season. He had only one in two previous seasons with San Francisco.

4. Seahawks coaches. Seattle squandered field position with overly conservative play calling when the team sought to move into range for a late field goal during a 24-21 defeat at the Minnesota Vikings. Quarterback Russell Wilson had been hot, setting an NFL rookie record with 16 consecutive completions earlier in the game. A quick rollout pass seemingly would have provided a better alternative. On defense, Seattle couldn't let inside receivers roam freely through the secondary at critical moments. The Dolphins' Davone Bess and Charles Clay combined for 13 receptions and 213 yards on 15 targets. After the game, coach Pete Carroll said he was wrong to give a young team additional time off during the bye week.


1. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers QB. Another week, another impressive performance for the 49ers' second-year quarterback in a high-profile game. The 49ers defense provided two interception returns for touchdowns during a 31-21 victory at New Orleans. Kaepernick did his part, too. The touchdown drives he led during the first and third quarters helped the 49ers play this game on their terms. Kaepernick has not yet been named the starter against St. Louis in Week 13. At the very least, Kaepernick has proven he's got a future as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

2. Janoris Jenkins, Rams CB. Jenkins picked off two passes and returned both of them for touchdowns during St. Louis' 31-17 victory at Arizona. Jenkins' stock had been falling in recent weeks. He had struggled on the field and drawn a one-game suspension from the team for rules violations off it. This performance affirmed Jenkins' playmaking ability. His plays put the Rams over the top against Arizona.

3. Ahmad Brooks, 49ers OLB. Brooks and teammate Donte Whitner returned interceptions for touchdowns against New Orleans' Drew Brees as the 49ers claimed a 31-21 victory in the Superdome. Brooks dropped into coverage and appeared to disappear from Brees' field of vision before snatching the ball and taking it all the way back. The timing of the play was critical for San Francisco. The 49ers had just thrown an interception. The Saints were in position to drive for points right before halftime. Brooks changed the script.

4. Leon Washington, Seahawks RB. The Seahawks and Dolphins were tied in the fourth quarter when Washington's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown put Seattle back in the lead. Washington's 31.9-yard average ranks third in the NFL among kickoff returners. That figure, if sustained, would be a career best for Washington, who now has eight total return touchdowns for his career. Washington has four returns of 40-plus yards in 18 chances. He had four in 43 returns last season.