TV Schedule: Sunday, Dec. 8, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium
Weather: High 52, Low 36
Line: Arizona (-6)
After starting the season off poorly, the Arizona Cardinals have revved up their play and put their foot on the pedal in the playoff race. It looks like this team is better than people had once thought and Carson Palmer is now playing better than he had early on in the year. Palmer has passed for 3,189 yards and 19 touchdowns on the year, throwing just four interceptions and 11 touchdowns in his last five games after throwing just eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his first seven games. Michael Floyd has emerged as Palmer’s favorite target, catching 54 passes for 860 yards and four touchdowns while Larry Fitzgerald has 55 catches for 678 yards and nine scores. Rashard Mendenhall leads the 24th-ranked rushing attack with 467 yards and five touchdowns, but rookie Andre Ellington isn’t far behind with 441 yards and two touchdowns on six yards per carry.
The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, haven’t been as impressive as people would have hoped this season, posting a 5-7 record and sitting in last place in the NFC West. Losing franchise quarterback Sam Bradford has contributed to some of the struggles this team has faced, but that’s not the only reason as the rams have a hard time scoring points on the ground as well. Kellen Clemens has filled in for Bradford and passed for 1,019 yards and five touchdowns while completing just over 51 percent of his passes. Tavon Austin has come on strong in the past few games for the Rams, catching 39 passes on the season for 409 yards and four scores while rushing for another 95 yards and a touchdown. Zac Stacy leads the run game with 696 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Rams were expected to have one of the best defenses in the league prior to the season, but they have been nothing but average. St. Louis ranks 15th in points allowed, 18th in total yards allowed and 15th in passing yards allowed per game. Arizona has fared much better on defense this season, ranking eighth in points allowed and having the seventh-best overall defense and the fourth-best run-stopping defense.
PREDICTION: Rams 23, Cardinals 28
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.