Last game of the season, and despite what the record says, it's not totally meaningless. Linehan and the Rams need a win today to avoid becoming the worst Rams team since coming to STL.
Oh, there's been some memorable teams in the that time. I had to remind one of my dear friends until 1998 that St. Louis did indeed have a football team. And it wasn't until the SUper Bowl title that you really started to see Rams memorabilia publicly displayed out here in the hinterlands of the Show Me State (Springfield) that had for so long been a redoubt of Chiefs fandom. Suffice it to say that if the Rams don't have a good offseason and compete next year, they face obscurity and the long slog to build up the fan base again.
Look backs at the year that was have already started, and the next week should feature mea culpas and promises of better things to come. We'll be daily dissecting the season that was and looking ahead to the seasons that will be. THe biggest question, that will go along way toward determining the future of the team, is the ownership situation. Stay tuned on that front.
Today's game certainly isn't out if reach for the Rams. If you look at hte points allowed totals, the Rams have allowed 390 and the Cardinals 380, so the game certainly has the potential to feature some scoring. I'll be pretty happy if the Rams can dial it in for the last game and play as well in the second half as they have played in the first halves of games. The Cardinals score points with more regularity than the Rams, and like all the games we've seen this year, that'll be the difference maker.
The Rams defense ranks 14th in sack rate, having collected 31 sacks for a 6.6% sack rate. Last year, they had 34 total sacks and a sack rate of 5.7%. So similar, yet so different. The key, last year Leonard Little had a great year in spite of the rest of the defense. This year, Little absence has forced the Rams to adopt a different approach to their blitz, using the 3-4 with Carriker and Witherspoon as the main rushers on the edges. It's been one of the more pleasant surprises of the season and something that holds out a lot of hope for next season.
Don't forget to swing by Revenge of the Birds for the Cardinals fans view of the game. They're not going to playoffs and Seattle pulled away from them in the division standings a few weeks ago, but the Phoenix fans ought to be optimistic about their fortunes in 2008 as they look to even their record at .500 and the most wins wince 2001. I seem to recall being optimistic about this time last season...
Enjoy the game, GO RAMS!