This week’s Thursday Night Football match up will pit the Arizona Cardinals (4-0) up against the St. Louis Rams (2-2) inside of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The Rams are looking to gain some ground inside surprisingly one of the top divisions in the NFL, the NFC West while the Cardinals are looking to remain undefeated and atop of the division. It should be a very physical and defensive oriented game as the NFC West has become that type of division over the past two seasons; here’s some things to expect in this one.
The Cardinals currently rank third in the NFL in terms of point allowed per game (15.3) which is a bit surprising considering that defense is giving yardage against both the pass (256 yards per game, 21st in NFL) and the run (101 yards per game, tied for 14th in NFL). If the Cards want to keep their undefeated season going they are definitely going to have to correct the issues against the run in this game because the Rams will definitely look to run the football against them early and often.
While on the topic of a running game, Arizona needs to establish one (68 rushing yards per game, 29th in NFL) and this would be an ideal week to do so against a team in St. Louis that is currently ranked 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed (135.3 yards per game). Running backs Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells will have to do their part and get the running game on track so that way it can open things up for Kevin Kolb in the passing game. Kolb is having a decent season so far 67-107 for 752 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions but it could be better if defenses were caught off balance a little more and a boost in the running game would do just that for him. When Kolb is throwing the ball expect him to look for Larry Fitzgerald (22 receptions for 245 yards and 2 TD this season) down field whenever he has the opportunity.
The Rams offense stinks to put it shortly; they rank 27th in offensive yards (287 per game), 28th in passing yards (196.5 per game), 20th in rushing yards (90.5 yards per game) and 26th in points scored per game (19.8) and will need some if not all of these aspects to change if they want to beat the Cardinals and improve to 3-2 on the season. Since Arizona’s defense struggles slightly against the passing attack then it is up to Sam Bradford to finally come through with a big game and lead his troops to a victory. So far this season Bradford has completed 77 of his 125 pass attempts for 881 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Danny Amendola (31 receptions for 351 yards and 2 TD) and Brandon Gibson (10 receptions for 151 yards and 2 TD) have been Bradford’s go-to targets so far this season and he will need a huge effort out of both in this contest.
This should be a close contest and in the end it will more than likely come down to the fourth quarter and which team can execute best during that period. I think Arizona’s unbeaten season ends after this one as the Rams come out victorious 20-17. If I’m wrong then maybe the Cardinals are more legit than anyone has given them credit for this season.