When the St. Louis Rams (5-7) hosted the Arizona Cardinals (7-5) during week 1 of the NFL season, many expected this to be the season St. Louis makes a push for the playoffs. After a tough fought victory during that season opener game, the Rams looked the part. Quarterback Sam Bradford was able to spread the ball behind his new offensive line, Jared Cook played the game of his career, and the defense was able to hold of the Cardinals late push.
Fast forward to week 14, the Cardinals are in the playoff picture and the Rams are on the edge of being mathematically eliminated. First year Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has his team playing like a contender. What came as a somewhat easy win for the St. Louis Rams in week 1 now looks like an uphill battle.
The Rams have more questions this late in the season then they did coming into week one. Chris Givens and Daryl Richardson have been nowhere to be seen. Jared Cook and Tavon Austin have not played to their true potential, and we still don’t know if Bradford is the future. Kellen Clemens has done a respectable job as a back up QB, but it hasn’t been enough.
Both the Rams and Cardinals are coming off tough losses. The Cardinals might be the hungrier team as they are still in the mix to earn a wild card spot. They have even posted a video on their website showing highlights of the two teams. This would be the perfect time to take advantage of the Rams as they might still be hurting after San Francisco came out and gave them a beat down.
This is a game that may be won on defense. Although the Cardinals have big weapons in wide outs Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, Carson Palmer has a nagging elbow injury. The Rams front four will be looking to attack Palmer all game long and take away those weapons. For the Cardinals, their secondary is a young and talented group that can shut down the Rams receivers. Although the Rams love to run the ball, the Cardinals also have the fourth best run defense in the league.
This game will not be anywhere close to where to their first game. The Rams need this win to stay in the hunt for their first winning season since 2003. For the Cardinals, this game means a lot more to them and will do anything to stay relevant in the wild card race. The Rams are a team that likes to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. Look for the Cardinals to take advantage when the Rams do.