Later this afternoon, the Cardinals will play host to the St. Louis Rams. A true battle of the last kids to be picked in gym class. Each team presents a one and six record going into the game with a chance to come out in third, or even a chance at sharing second place if they win. If the cardinals can play like they did against Baltimore, the Rams could be in for a long day.
KEYS TO THE GAME
John Skelton and the Offense
Kevin Kolb, limited by turf toe, didn’t participate in any team practices this week. Leaving the starting duties to second year quarterback John Skelton. The Fordham product is two and two in four career starts. One of those wins was against the Dallas Cowboys, where Skelton led the team to a fourth quarter comeback to win. Although he was sidelined with an ankle sprain throughout the preseason, he has received a majority of the reps with the first team offense this week. Skelton has all the tools to be a starting quarterback in this league. Beanie Wells, 83 yards and a td last week, was again limited in practice, but seeing how he played in Baltimore gives hope that he can produce similar results. Larry Fitzgerald should be Skelton’s go to man tomorrow. His stats have been somewhat mundane since signing a eight year 120 million dollar contract in the off season. A boldin-esque performance would simply be rad. If Skelton throws for over 300 yards and 2 td’s today we may have ourselves a controversy at the quarterback postiton come Monday.
A quarterback can’t be successful if he isn’t allowed to have time in the pocket to make the right reads and throws. Kurt Warner made the line look better than it was because of his quick release and ability to pick up the blitz. Two attributes Kevin Kolb isn’t the greatest at. The Rams present a defensive front seven that sacked Drew Brees six times last week. This is a very frightening thought, considering we are starting a quarterback with just four starts to his name. DT Chris Long logged three of those sacks himself. If the O-line can prevent just him from getting to the quarterback, Skelton will have a good chance at making some quality throws.
Defending the Run
Until last week, the Rams were without a true number one receiver, that changed when they traded for Brandon Lloyd of the Denver Broncos. Since his acquisition, he has yet to be on the field at the same time as franchise quarterback Sam Bradford, who has been out due to a high ankle sprain. A.J. Feely did just enough last week to get the win over the Saints, passing for 175 yards and a touchdown. Steven Jackson was an integral part of that win, rushing for 159 yards and two scores, it’s also the first time he has rushed for over 100 yards in game in two years. I believe their game plan will continue to be of the dame strategy until Bradford is completely healed. A healthy Steven Jackson is a dangerous one. The front seven of the defense should focus on stopping the run. LB Joey is out again, allowing more playing time for Sam Ocho and O’Brien Schofield. Each recorded a sack last week against the Ravens. The Cardinals seem to give away games in the second half. I know that our corps of defensive backs is young and unproven, but they’ve got get better at shutting down the other teams number one guy. If Brandon Lloyd goes Anquan Boldin on us, Ray Horton better feel some fire under his chair.
In years past this game might have been a gimme for the birds. This week its an epic battle for third place. The Cardinals don’t play at home for the rest of the month, traveling to Philadelphia, San Francisco, and to St. Louis. It is critical for moral of the team and the fans to get a win today. Cardinals 24 Rams 21