Week 5: Arizona Cardinals At St. Louis Rams
- QuarterbackThe Cardinals are the surprise team in the NFL through the first four weeks and Kevin Kolb leading them seems to be a work of fiction. A disaster prior to this season, Kolb is at his best when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. He will be tested with this road game.The Rams are a much more competitive team at home than they are on the road. Sam Bradford is not the most gifted quarterback, but he is smart and doesn’t try to play the role of hero very often. He takes what the defense will give him and he finds weaknesses and exploits them.
- OffenseThe Cardinals want to help Kolb out by giving him a running game. Ryan Williams runs hard, but he did little against the Dolphins. Larry Fitzgerald will be the focus of the passing attack but the Cardinals have another big play receiver in Andre Roberts who can take advantage of the double-team that Fitzgerald sees on most passing plays.The Rams have not been successful when they don’t get a running game. That means Steven Jackson. He was solid in the win over the Seahawks even if he did not have a huge statistical game. A little bit of a run allows Danny Amendola to use his quickness to ignite the passing game.
- DefenseThe Cardinals have been playing solid football dating back to the last six games of last season. That’s largely due to the aggressiveness of the defense. The most interesting part is that the Cardinals have plenty of talent led by Calais Campbell and Adrian Wilson, and now the unit is developing confidence in itself that it never had before.The Rams are all about schemes and aggressiveness, because they simply don’t have the talent of many of the better defenses in the league. While Chris Long is a star on the defensive line, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and head coach Jeff Fisher are basically getting it done with smoke and mirrors. This unit has decent quickness, but few other attributes.
- Special TeamsThe Cardinals are fairly underrated when it comes to special teams. Jay Feely kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime against the Dolphins, and he simply does not miss. Punter Dave Zastudil regularly kicks the Cardinals out of trouble.The Rams redid their special teams in the offseason and that was one of the best moves they have made. Rookie placekicker Greg Zuerlein appears to be a real monster. He made 4-of-4 FG attempts against the Seahawks, including a team-record 60-yarder and a 58-yarder.
The Cardinals are an interesting team. There is little thought that they are one of the NFL’s great teams, but they are undefeated and they believe in themselves. Ken Whisenhunt is doing one of the great coaching jobs of the year. Still, the Rams play well at home and this game will be a challenge for the Cardinals.