Here’s something we can look forward to whether the Rams arise from the game victorious or not – a couple of Rams are on the verge of milestones this Sunday. First, running back Steven Jackson is 124 all- purpose yards away from tying Henry Ellard for third most in team history. Second, defensive end Chris Long is just one sack shy of his career first 10-sack season.
Okay, now let’s get back to business…
Let’s be realistic folks. This Sunday’s match up is the best chance for the Rams to pull out a win. The rest of the schedule is more than daunting: @SF, @SEA (MNF), vs. CIN, @PIT, and vs. SF.
Rams were a blocked field goal away from winning in Arizona and with home dome advantage they should be able to place another notch on the “W” column.
Yes, they’ve been ravaged by injuries many of them leading players to IR pastures. This week alone they’ve lost CB Marquis Johnson, OT Rodger Saffold, OT Jason Smith, and WR Mark Clayton. With such departures they’ve had to bring unfamiliar names who will have to step into the NFL spotlight sooner than the team probably wished for. OT Kevin Hughes, WR/KR Nick Miller, OT Thomas Welch (Buffalo practice squad) and OL Bryan Mattison from the Ravens practice squad.
What the Rams need to do on offense:
Rams need to protect their QB, Sam Bradford. Poor Sam has been sacked a league leading 31 times for 205 yards in losses. His quarterback rating is the lowest in the division at 70.9 just a hair above Redskins QB Rex Grossman (70.1) – i.e. that’s very bad.
A lot of his free fall from his rookie season has to do with the shuffling of his offensive line due to injuries as mentioned above. Offensive coordinator/guru (*cough) Josh McDaniels must find a better scheme and plan of attack this week.
The Cardinals defense has enough muscle and speed to add to the 31 sacks Sam took. Keep your eyes peeled for DE Calais Campbell and S Adrian Wilson. They burned the Rams more than once and will look to repeat their good fortunes at the Dome.
Hopefully we won’t be seeing any more spread offense formations with Steven Jackson spread out wide and an empty back field. Someway somehow Bradford’s left side needs to get more padding (blocking the back field) and Sam needs to find a way to roll out of the pocket to make some throws. Oh I don’t know maybe McDaniels could utilize Steven Jackson’s beast mode and call some play action to take the pressure off of Sam. But what do I know.
What the Rams need to do on defense:
Basically, to sum it up in one sentence: The Rams defense must dial down WR Larry Fitzgerald and make him a non-factor. There’s no one on the Rams secondary that can take him in man-to-man coverage so defensive coordinator Ken Flajole will have to mix up double coverages and get creative. The big guys up on the line will have to step it up this week and keep QB John Skelton off kilter.
It’ll be nice to see DE Chris Long ring up that tenth sack during this game. Make your Papa Howie proud, Chris. The Cardinals rushing game will manifest in the form of Beanie Wells and Chester Taylor.
What the Rams need to do on special teams:
No more line drives by P Donnie Jones and definitely DO NOT kick it to CB/PR Patrick Peterson. Got that? Do not kick it to Peterson. We all saw back in week 9 what he’s capable of.
Who will win the game:
I’m going to be the Rams homer again this week and pick them to beat the Cardinals 20-17. They have to come away with a victory this week. Like I said before this is their best chance to add to the “W” column.