This is a game that the Arizona Cardinals have to win.
The Red Birds are in desperate straights right now, losers of six games in a row and in dire need of a victory. They welcome in the St. Louis Rams to Glendale this Sunday afternoon and will be featuring a new starting quarterback, rookie Ryan Lindley. The Rams were the squad that gave the Cardinals their first loss of the season, 17-3, last month and it's been down hill for Arizona ever since. Let's take a look at Sunday's tilt:
St. Louis (3-6-1)
Jeff Fisher's team is coming off a lackluster 27-13 loss to the New York Jets. Quarterback Sam Bradford leads the way and he's had an average season at best with an 82.9 QB rating and 12 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Look for the Cardinals defense to dial up the pressure on him. Running back Steven Jackson has played better of late with 182 combined rushing yards in his last two contests.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola (538 receiving yards), a top flight possession receiver and Bradford's favorite target, may miss the game with a foot injury. That would be a huge loss for the Rams. Bradford would then have to rely on inexperienced wide outs Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens, who have a combined 51 catches between them.
St. Louis registered nine sacks in its 17-3 triumph and will be licking their chops to face the rookie Lindley. If they have a sack total anywhere close to that, the Cardinals are in deep trouble.
This game marks the return of running back Beanie Wells, who missed the last seven games with turf toe. The Cards need to get a solid rushing attack going between him and LaRod Stephens-Howling to take pressure off Lindley's shoulders. Look for Wells to be used between the tackles and for Stephens-Howling to be used as a third down/screen pass receiving back, which is more of his strength. LSH has done a wonderful job as the lead back though in the absence of Wells and Ryan Williams.
The Cards still have the worst offensive line in the NFL and need to give Lindley time to throw the ball. Larry Fitzgerald has become almost invisible lately and was held to just one catch against the Falcons last week. Defenses are constantly double-teaming him so Andre Roberts, Rob Housler and rookie Michael Floyd must step up up their games respectively.
Arizona still has one of the best defenses in the league, allowing just 19.6 PPG (seventh) and are tied for sixth in sacks with 28. They also have 14 interceptions (fourth in the NFL), four more than last season's total, including five last week against Atlanta. Defensive end Calais Campbell is expected to play after missing last week with a calf injury. His return will bolster Arizona's pass rush which will be looking to force Bradford into some pressured mistakes.
Prediction: The return of Wells should help Lindley a great deal. The rookie signal-caller needs to manage the game and not make mistakes so look for the Cardinals to install a conservative game plan with short passes and play-action. The Red Birds are kicking themselves for losing last week's game to Atlanta, a game they should have won. The Rams aren't that good and Arizona is due for a win. It finally happens here – in overtime. Cardinals 20, Rams 17.
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