On paper, this contest looks like a mismatch. The Cardinals have a five game lead over the home team and have played well on the road this season. The St. Louis Rams, a squad that many analysts thought would be a playoff team, have performed poorly everywhere they’ve played, on the road and at home.
With little left to play for (the postseason is already out of reach), it seems obvious to fans and National Football League (NFL) analysts and prognosticators that Arizona will cruise to an easy victory against a divisional foe.
But it is because Arizona itself is a divisional foe in this game that the Rams are likely to play “all out” to upset the visitors. The Cardinals have a three game lead over the second place Seattle Seahawks with only five games remaining to be played in the regular season. They may already be on “cruise control,” thinking that they have first place “in the bag” and a ticket to the postseason all but guaranteed.
If the players have that mindset, this squad may be vulnerable on Sunday afternoon against the frustrated and angry Rams. Add to that the belief by players on the home team that they are now “fighting to retain their jobs” next year and an upset begins to seem like it could take place.
Of course, the team from the desert has a franchise quarterback, Carson Palmer, playing like an all star and receivers, like John Brown, that are able to break free from defenders to make big plays. Arizona also has a stout defense that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stop scoring drives.
That’s why the Cardinals have won nine of eleven games this year. But the St. Louis Rams are a team that is capable of scoring points in bunches under the running of rookie Todd Gurley. This squad just doesn’t reach opposing end zones consistently. The Rams can also be formidable on defense, something this club has shown in some of the games it has played.
The question fans of the home team will be asking themselves this Sunday is which team will show up? If the Rams play their “A” game, it will be “the good team” that fans love and an upset by the home team will be a real possibility.
However, even a superlative effort by the home team may prove to be not enough to overcome the visiting Cardinals. Arizona is a squad filled with proud and determined players. It is also a team that is now “jockeying” for playoff position. It wants to have home field advantage deep into the playoffs. It can achieve that desirable goal if it keeps winning games.
The Cardinals, mindful of the fact that Sunday’s contest against a divisional foe may be a “trap game” will almost certainly compete hard in an effort to emerge victorious.
Courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals