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Rank speculation: getting ready for week 9

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The arbiters of conventional wisdom (some of them at least) have weighed in on the Rams loss to New England on Sunday. ESPN's power rankings for the week drop the Rams to the 26th spot, from the 25th last week.  

You'll note they comment on the Rams possibility of staying in the division race with a win against Arizona this week. Three game into the season, who'd a thunk we'd be talking about the Rams in the division race? 

This week's game might be the most important game thus far. Speaking of that game, check out the comment for the Cardinals, who fell from 9th to 13th in the rankings:

The Cardinals remain vulnerable to defensive lapses, a concern when they face top competition.

Granted, the Rams don't fit the bill as "top competition," but they can surprise better teams that this. In fact, the Cardinals defense doesn't grade out much better than the Rams over the course of the full season. Check it out, the Rams and the Cardinals share similar rankings in some important defensive categories and the Rams actually top the Cardinals in two of them, including yards per pass play (Rams rank 31, ARI ranks 28), 3rd down percentage (Rams 23, ARI 24), and red zone percentage (Rams 27, ARI 28). The Cardinals are 22nd in points per game and the Rams are 30th. Yards per game is the big difference, with the Rams ranked 29 and the Cardinals 13. 

Over their last three games, though, the Rams have allowed 54 points, while the Cardinals have allowed 68 points. Yardage wise, the Rams have allowed 1,057 total yards (654 passing, 403 rushing); Arizona has allowed 1,012 total yards (742 passing, 270 rushing). Seems like a great week to get the passing game back on track.