Friday, December 3, 2010

Rams @ Cardinals: Pre-Game Package

If the Rams have one easy game on the road this season, a game they should be expected to win, then it is this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams are sitting in first place in the NFC West with a 5-6 record, and Arizona is sitting in last place with a 3-8 record; the Cardinals are tied with Dallas for the third worst record in the NFC, and they have now lost six games in a row after their Monday night embarrassment against the San Francisco 49er's.

The Cardinals have been dreadful on both sides of the ball, but let's take a look at their offense first. Their offense, despite having one of the truly elite wide-receivers in the league (Larry Fitzgerald), has not been clicking. Everyone expected their offensive production to plummet after losing future hall-of-fame quarterback Kurt Warner, but no one thought it would deteriorate as much as it has.

Part of the problem is that the Cardinals can not seem to find a suitable quarterback on their roster. Matt Leinart, a former first round pick in 2006, was widely expected to win the starting job this season, but he was cut loose before the season even started. Ever since then, the team has been bouncing between the un-drafted rookie Max Hall, and the journeyman Derek Anderson. Neither are appealing options.
The Arizona offense has been dismal ever since Warner's departure.

Hall has only one career touchdown pass versus five interceptions. He has a 50.7% completion percentage, and has a disgustingly low 41.0 quarterback rating. On the other hand, Anderson's best season came in 2007 when he was with the Cleveland Browns; during that season he threw for 3,787 yards with 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. That 2007 season won him a trip to the Pro-Bowl, but he hasn't been able to perform at that level ever since. This season he has 1,972 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Anderson was able to beat the Rams in St. Louis back in week one, but a lot of things have changed since then. Rams' quarterback Sam Bradford has matured throughout the season, and is now one of the top passers in the NFC; the Rams' run defense has also evolved into an almost elite unit. And not to mention, Anderson has been dealing with a lot of drama lately, which really hurts his chances, because football and drama historically do not mix. Watch the video if you do not know what I am referring to:

Long story short- the Cardinals have the 31st ranked rushing offense going against the 13th ranked St. Louis run defense. And though the Rams' pass defense has struggled as of late (ranked 21st), they should do fine going against the 30th ranked passing offense; especially since Rams' CB Ron Bartell has been known to play well against Fitzgerald.

Thing aren't any better for the Arizona defense. The unit is ranked 29th in the NFL, and despite having some stars on defense (DT Darnell Dockett, SS Adrian Wilson, CB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie), they have not been playing with any heart.

The Arizona pass defense ranks 25th, which is not good for them, considering Sam Bradford just had a career day (308 yards, three touchdowns) against the Denver Broncos (20th ranked pass defense). The Cardinals' run defense is even worse, as it is the 31st ranked run defense in the NFL (ahead of only Buffalo).

Everyone knows that the Rams' defense can get it done, at least for three quarters (the opposing team starts to throw more in the fourth quarter, exposing the Rams' weak pass defense). So far in 2010, the Rams' victories have generally been decided by whether or not the offense can keep up with the defense; and given the horrid state of the Arizona team (both sides of the ball), the Rams should certainly be able to put up a lot of points.

PREDICTION:  RAMS 31  CARDINALS 16 ... and I feel I am being generous towards Arizona.


Sam Bradford413250246617
Steven Jackson2328833.83
Kenneth Darby29903.12
Danny Amendola645348.33
Brandon Gibson3437110.92


Derek Anderson30716219727
Max Hall75383601
Tim Hightower964384.63
Beanie Wells832833.42
Larry Fitzgerald5972812.35
Steve Breaston3657015.81

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