If you take a look beyond the combined 2-12 record of the Rams and Cardinals, what you have in Glendale, Ariz. on Sunday is an extremely important game for both teams, who are both likely to be toting back-up quarterbacks on the field.
In the Rams improbable win over the Saints last Sunday, quarterback A.J. Feeley played well enough to guide his team to victory. It also helped that his Clydesdale, Steven Jackson, had his first 100+ yard rushing game in three years. Amazing to think Jackson went three years without cracking the century mark in a game, but the stats don’t lie.
Much has been said about the Rams and how the injury bug has nearly devoured them this season, especially in their secondary, but the Cardinals will be facing a team this Sunday with renewed vigor, now that the monkey is off their back, and they are no longer alongside the Dolphins and Colts as the only teams to not win a game this season.
“Big Red” will likely be without quarterback Kevin Kolb, as he continues to fight through the dreaded turf toe injury he suffered last week in Baltimore, which means John Skelton would to make the start.
Running back Beanie Wells got a good amount of work agains the Ravens last week, and should be on the field Sunday. He most definitely will be a safety valve for Skelton if and when things take a wrong turn and he needs to get bailed out of a situation.
The keys to victory for the Cardinals on Sunday are very simple, and they are as follows:
- Make sure Skelton isn’t constantly on the deck, looking up into the lights at University of Phoenix Stadium, because if he is, than that means the offense is going nowhere because he’s not able to work the offense as a good field general should do.
- An effective offensive line push will help your third down numbers, which were horrid last week. The Cardinals offense went 2-for-11, which meant a lot of drives died where they stood. The Rams are 31st in the league in total offense, so it stands to say that you really don’t need that many points to beat this team, providing you do everything else that’s necessary to win.
- The Cardinals cannot have double-digit penalties and expect to beat the Rams. They have to play 60 minutes of disciplined football in order to come out on top.
- Arizona must run and stop the Rams from running…simple as that. Once #39 gets rolling for St. Louis and gets fired up, it’s hard to keep him from infecting his teammates, as evidenced by his “outburst” last Sunday against the Saints.
- On defense, the front seven has to keep a hat on Feeley and Jackson. If they have an inch, they’ll take a mile. The young secondary will face a test against wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Danario Alexander. They can’t let Lloyd and Alexander get behind them and get separation, or it’s gonna be a long afternoon.
The Cardinals absolutely need this win, as they are on the road for the next two weeks in Philadelphia and San Francisco, which are two of the toughest places to win at in the NFL.
I don’t think it will be a blowout like some might think it will be. After all, it’s a division game, and we all know how wacky those games can be.