If those upstart Arizona Cardinals truly want to make this season magical, they need to solve the league's west-to-east puzzle.
Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego and Arizona - which spends half the year in the Pacific time zone - are 0-12 this season in games played in the Eastern time zone. The Cardinals lead the soft NFC West by four games entering a game at former division kingpin Seattle, but are 0-3 in the East. They have two more trips there during the regular season: Thanksgiving night at Philadelphia and Dec. 21 at New England.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has tweaked his team's eastern travel this season by pushing back the players' curfews on Friday night. He's also having them hang out at an activities room he has the road hotel staff set up with movies, games and such. The idea is to keep the players on their normal body clocks for the first 24 hours in the East.
But it hasn't worked: Seattle is 0-4 in the East this season and has been outscored 119-45.
What is Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt doing to address his team's East Coast trips?
at the road stadium or wherever is available at the same time on Saturday.
``We have experimented starting last year and we think we have a plan that works now. We have kept it very consistent, leaving at the same time, getting to the hotel at the same, getting our schedule very similar,'' said Whisenhunt, who is in his second year leading Arizona. He kept the Cardinals in the Washington, D.C. area between the Redskins and Jets games. ``When we went to New York and Washington this year we felt we made progress, and then when we went to Carolina we played our best game on the East Coast.
``We had a chance to beat Carolina in Carolina and we didn't because we turned the ball over. And that didn't have anything to do when you leave or what your sleep patterns are.''
By the way, the 2009 Super Bowl is in Tampa, Fla. At least participating teams get a week to acclimate for that.
ARBY'S TO NFL: There's little glamour in the work the Miami Dolphins had in mind for safety Courtney Bryan when they signed him this week: covering kicks.
But it beats his most recent job, which was working the night shift at Arby's.
``It's not like I was broke, but I was bored,'' Bryan said. ``I just like to work. I like to do something with my time.''
Bryan wasn't even a manager at the restaurant in his hometown of Oakland, Calif. He said he mopped the floor.
e said.
While out of the NFL for two months, Bryan also worked out twice a day and took an online class for credit toward graduation.
Bryan played in 12 games for Miami as a rookie last year, but was cut at the end of training camp this year. He was re-signed to upgrade special teams for the Dolphins, who are last in the NFL in kickoff coverage and next-to-last in punt coverage.
MCNABB'S INFLUENCE: Turns out Donovan McNabb is a big reason why Chad Ocho Cinco stopped complaining and accepted his situation with Cincinnati.
``I blew his phone up,'' Ocho Cinco said. ``Donovan is one of the people that I confided in during the offseason when things weren't going well for me. I just wanted the input of a veteran who understands the things that are going on.
``He took me in that direction instead of thinking about, 'I'm tired of losing and I don't want to be here anymore.' Just thinking about, 'Man, a lot of people wish they were in your shoes, just to have the ability to play in the NFL.' And that kind of turned it around, and that's why I've been as positive as I have been this year. And even though we're losing, I've just been plugging away.''
If only McNabb could've persuaded Terrell Owens to change his tune when T.O. feuded with his QB and management in 2005 after helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl a year earlier.
inco and the Bengals, maybe Ocho Cinco shouldn't be so thankful McNabb persuaded him to stay. Ocho Cinco, who changed his name this year from Chad Johnson, has only 37 catches for 349 yards and four touchdowns and the Bengals are 1-8 entering Sunday's game against McNabb and the Eagles (5-4).
VIKINGS PASS RUSH: Through the first nine games of the season, the Minnesota Vikings are getting a nice return on their considerable investment in defensive end Jared Allen.
Despite playing the last six quarters with a third-degree sprain of his right shoulder, Allen leads the team with eight sacks. More importantly, he has opened up things for the rest of the defensive line to generate pressure as well.
Through nine games last season, the 10 Vikings defensive linemen who played in games generated a total of 15 1/2 sacks and 83 quarterback hurries. Kenechi Udeze led the way with four sacks and Kevin Williams had 22 hurries.
This year, eight defensive lineman have seen playing time and have generated 17 1/2 sacks and 101 hurries. Kevin Williams has seven sacks and Allen leads the way with 30 hurries.
``It's exactly what we envisioned when we signed him in the offseason,'' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. ``We thought it really would help the other guys on the defensive line as well, and so far that's exactly what has happened.''
were linebackers, with Ben Leber tying for the team lead with five sacks - for the whole season.
With Allen in the mix and the front four putting more pressure on the quarterback, Frazier hasn't had to blitz nearly as much, which has also been a big boost to their pass defense.
``It's been great to see our front be able to generate pressure without always having to bring six or seven,'' Frazier said. ``It's quite a contrast from a year ago when our linebackers were at the top as far as our sack numbers were concerned.''
LUCKY CHARM?: Jaguars running back Fred Taylor sees defensive end Jevon Kearse as the ultimate good luck charm for a football team - at least in his first season with a team. And he has the proof.
Taylor's Gators won a national championship in 1996 when Kearse was a freshman. The Tennessee Titans reached the Super Bowl by beating Taylor's Jaguars in 1999 with Kearse the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year. And in Kearse's first season with Philadelphia in 2004, the Eagles went to the Super Bowl.
Now Kearse is in his first season back with the Titans, who are the NFL's last unbeaten team with a 9-0 start that is the franchise's best ever.
``That stat doesn't help us out, but it sure enough works in their favor,'' said Taylor, whose Jaguars host Tennessee on Sunday. ``So we'll see how it goes. That's my man forever.''
cos strong side linebacker Jamie Winborn has offered to relocate considering all the injuries.
Strong side, weakside or middle linebacker, he'll play wherever the Broncos need.
``Quarterback. I'd be a good option QB,'' Winborn said, laughing.
That's not an option.
The Broncos couldn't afford to lose another linebacker, down three starters already.
Nate Webster is expected to miss a few weeks with a strained MCL that he sustained against Cleveland, the same injury that sidelined D.J. Williams the week before.
Boss Bailey, the team's other top linebacker, went on injured reserve after hurting his knee at New England on Oct. 20.
``It's definitely been weird, guys going down like that,'' Winborn said. ``But that happens in this league. ... We just have to overcome it.''
AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Gregg Bell in Seattle, Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia, Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis, Steven Wine in Miami, Pat Graham in Denver and Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to this story.

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