Undefeated Cardinals face Rams on Sportsnet

October 3, 2012, 11:35 PM

ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-0) @ ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-2)

8:30 P.M. — EDWARD JONES DOME — ST. LOUIS, MO

Line: Cardinals -2 Over/Under: 39.5

Cardinals injuries: Darnell Dockett, Todd Heap, Paris Lenon, LaRod Stephens-Howling (all quesionable)

Rams injuries: Steven Jackson (questionable), Rodger Saffold (out)

STORYLINES

– The Cardinals defence has been suffocating in three of four games, hanging losses on elite quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Michael Vick. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill managed to have the best performance against this unit, passing for more than 400 yards last week. That should get this Cardinals D right fired up to come out and make a statement against their divisional foe.

– Former first-overall pick Sam Bradford has looked anything but special in 2012. The Rams rank 28th in passing offence, with Bradford having thrown for just 881 yards through four games. Even with a shaky offensive line and a real lack of weapons, save the shifty Danny Amendola, Rams fans would really like to see their third-year QB show some more ability.

– The Cardinals boast an impressive front three in their 3-4 defence, including one of the most underrated defensive players in the league, Calais Campbell. At 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, he should garner constant double teams, opening up countless opportunities for the Cards other pass rushers. To make matters worse, Darnell Dockett will likely play tonight, and that’s bad news for the Rams shaky offensive line.

– The offensive line of the Cardinals isn’t much better than the Rams. They gave up eight sacks to the Dolphins on Sunday and blocked for all of 28 rushing yards. The Rams have drafted an impressive four-man front that can get pressure on the QB, but hasn’t fared very well against the run, ranking 26th in the NFL.

– Kevin Kolb surprised all his critics Sunday, completing his second come-from-behind victory of the season. This one was ultra impressive compared to his first, that was essentially a relief appearance of John Skelton. He was sacked eight times, but came back to lead a game-tying drive in the final two minutes, highlighted by the fourth-down touchdown pass to Andre Roberts to tie the game. It should be interesting to see how long Kolb can keep this up.

FANTASY NOTES

– While the Rams are expected to dictate their coverage towards Larry Fitzgerald, expect another strong showing from Andre Roberts. The third-year wideout leads the league in touchdown passes and has been a primary target of Kevin Kolb down in the red zone. Roberts is a fairly stable WR3 moving forward.

– Ryan Williams and Steven Jackson didn’t put up big numbers last week but it’s tough to sit a starting running back at this point in the season. The Rams were dashed on the ground last week by Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin so we could finally see a breakout performance from Williams.

– The Rams don’t offer much fantasy value outside of Jackson and Danny Amendola but their most effective player might be rookie kicker Greg Zuerlien, who has been a popular pickup this week. "Legatron" hit 58 and 60-yard kicks with ease last week and has quickly developed into a must-start option in fantasy circles.

JIM LANG’S TAKE

Everyone assumed as soon as Jeff Fisher took over as Head Coach of the Rams that he would make an impact on the team. I’m not sure how many people assumed he would make this kind of impact so early into his tenure in St. Louis. After four weeks the Rams have equalled their win total for the entire 2011 season and as the Seahawks can attest they are a much tougher team to play against this year. Standing in their way of a third win is the surprise team in the NFC, Kevin Kolb and the 4-0 Cardinals.

Make no mistake, the Cardinals are not the fluky team every thinks they are. Going back to last season the Cards have won 11 of their last 13 games. Part of that is the impact of players like Patrick Peterson and the other part is coach Ken Whisenhunt. Kolb has gone from the quarterback nobody wanted in Arizona to the toast of the town.

One of the big reasons for the Cardinals surprising success has been the outstanding work by their defense. The Cardinals have only allowed four touchdowns and are ranked third in the NFL, allowing only 15.3 points per game. So if the Rams are going to win this game, they’re going to have to put points on the scoreboard every chance they get. This is where Rams kicker Greg Zueurlein comes into play. The rookie is a perfect 12-for-12 this season including two 50 yarders and a 60-yard field goal.

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