If you look at the first sample you sent us I think that is more like a photo gallery, and even the ones that refer to articles are actually photos of articles.
The sample site was done with Drupal, so they probably used custom fields, views and panels to build the page. Our Drupal intermediate class actually gives you all the skills you need to do that, but you want to do it in Joomla, so that's not going to work:)
Here are some suggestions on how you could duplicate that effect. This tutorial describes a method for creating thumbnails for a blog layout. You could use this technique and intro paragraphs to do about the same thing. I think you could also use tabber to duplicate the tabs.
Consider a photo gallery. Look at Phoca Gallery and RokGallery or another gallery that might have a similar layout. They usually allow you to show ratings, hits an links all on the thumbnail images. You'd just need to get a similar template or fix one up the way you want it.
The other thing you could do is use a template with lots of front page modules, and create a module suffix to make the styling the same.
There are so many extensions you can get I can't think of one that exactly matches that. There may be one, but I'm not aware of it. Unless you find one, creativity is the answer.
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