The first game of the year for these two NFC West upstarts is going to be fun to watch. Fans of both teams have been biting their nails throughout training camp and the preseason. A new head coach in Arizona - to go with a quarterback who can actually play the position in Carson Palmer - will be at the forefront of Cardinals fans minds. St. Louis isn't just a young team, they're shrouded in mystery by head coach Jeff Fisher's refusal to show his hand during the preseason. Whether the hand holds a Royal Flush - or a pair of deuces - is what has Rams fans on the edge of their seats.
There's been lots of Tavon Austin this or that, along with speculation regarding the Cardinals offensive line being able to handle the onslaught of one of the top defensive lines in the NFL. The one big flaw the Rams showed on defense during the preseason was handling tight ends and running backs in pass coverage. With Arizona's underrated tight end Rob Housler sidelined by injury, the Rams could make a virtual unknown look like a star this Sunday if they haven't dialed in their coverage issues. The Cardinals - on paper - have a very good running back corp. The running back that catches the ball best for Arizona is...? I have no idea, but whoever it is, he could have a big day today.
Larry Fitzgerald is one of the very best wide receivers in the NFL, or at least he was before having to endure a long list of sub-par quarterbacks. Can Carson Palmer give "Fitz" new life? One of his close friends is Rams corner back Cortland Finnegan. It will be an interesting subplot in the game today if the two square off. Janoris Jenkins will have his hands full, with Michael Floyd seemingly primed for a big year. We better not forget the Rams safety questions, because Finnegan and Jenkins will be relying on someone having the backs on deep routes.
The Rams offensive line is oddly healthy? What is it - clean living? A new vegan diet? Puppies in the locker room? St. Louis has been cursed with offensive linemen who can't stay on the field much in the past five years or so. If this group stays healthy, it could be the difference in the game today, if not the season.
For me, this game will be about Sam Bradford and new Rams defensive coordinator Tim Walton. Bradford is about to take his shiny new receiving corps out for a spin. If he tries to force the ball to these lightning fast player as they zoom all over the field, Bradford could have a terrible day. But if they've developed a rapport, it could be a sight to see... Tim Walton will be at the helm of one of the most promising defenses in the NFL. How much control he actually has, and how much Jeff Fisher remains in over-watch, will be intriguing to see.
This is going to be a fast paced, physical game. So give me your final score predictions for the game. I say: Rams 27 - Cardinals 13. How about you?