All but out of any playoff picture I can imagine, the St. Louis Rams take on the spoiler role as they visit the Arizona Cardinals today. This game would have had loads riding on it had the Rams beaten the 49ers last Sunday. It would've placed the Cardinals in a position to control their own destiny, and kept the Rams slim playoff hopes simmering on the edge of possible. Now, Arizona has to win out, and hope the 49ers drastically stumble down the home stretch. The Rams are playing for "experience", as their young roster tries to grow into being a playoff caliber team in 2014.
In a more than likely low scoring affair, these two NFC West teams boast tough, physical defenses. St. Louis has repaired their woeful rushing defense to some degree, but look for the Cardinals to pound the ball on the ground. While Arizona has the #4 ranked run defense in the NFL, it isn't anything new facing the rams today. They've faced ten top 10 defenses so far this year, and done rather well. Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham will have a bruising day of it though, and they'll be called to pass block against a fast Arizona defense.
Players to watch? For the Rams, it will be Zac Stacy and Jared Cook, who torched the Cardinals in Week #1. Offensive lines for both teams are battered and patchwork, so the unit that can keep pressure off their quarterback will be the unsung heroes of today's game. Carson Palmer is nursing a sore elbow, so the Rams getting to him early on may be another key to this game.
Kellen Clemens had a rough outing last week in San Francisco, and he'll need to bounce back in a big way for the Rams to have a chance at stealing a win in the desert Southwest. Brian Quick will be my sleeper player for St. Louis. His size and speed make him a tough match up for anyone not named Patrick Peterson.
Enjoy the game!