In a couple of hours, the St. Louis Rams will hit prime time against the, surprisingly, undefeated Arizona Cardinals. The Cards’ sit atop the NFC West, holding a 1-0 record in the division after an upset over the Seattle Seahawks early in the season. The Rams are coming off a similar win, which bumped their record to a respectable 2-2, with a couple of close losses on the road. So far, St. Louis has been a dominate force at home, and are undefeated in the division. A win tonight means that the Rams are 2-0 in the division, 3-2 overall, and hold would hold the tiebreaker against both the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. So, without further delay, here are the five bold predictions for the game:
1. Sam Bradford will throw for 250+ yards
If you have been following the bold prediction since the beginning of the season, you likely remember the breakdown of the St. Louis Rams versus various defenses in the NFL. Against the Redskins, Ramblin’ Fan correctly predicted a dominating performance by the St. Louis offense, which we based primarily on Sam Bradford’s success against the 3-4 base defense in 2010, which was his first, and only, full season as the starter with healthy players,
|3-4 Defense||4-3 Defense|
Lucky for Bradford, the Cardinals technically play out of a 3-4 base, although they often shift a linebacker up to the line of scrimmage. For the same reason he has success against the Redskins, Bradford should have success against the Cardinals. The offense is run out of 3-step, quick passes to crossing route over the middle of the field, and the occasional long-ball off of a play action. If Arizona plays a true 3-4, the defense will not reach Bradford before the ball is out of his hands.
2. The Rams will have more touchdowns than field goals
The Rams are easily sitting at 0-4, in the depths of the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns, if it weren’t for the leg of Greg Zuerlein. Aside from Johnny Hekker’s touchdown pass last week, Zuerlein’s kicks have been the only source of points for the last two games. Bradford has only four touchdowns passes on the year, three of which came against the Redskins. Worse, the Rams have yet to “officially” rush for a touchdown this season.
However, this game will be the turning point for the offense. Against the Miami Dolphins, the Cardinals allowed Ryan Tannehill to throw for 431 yards and a touchdown. Brian Hartline single-handedly destroyed a weakened Arizona secondary, putting up 253 yards on 12 receptions. No, the Dolphins are not that good. The real difference in the game was the absence of Darnell Dockett and the lingering injury of Adrian Wilson. William Gay got burnt on every snap, and essentially forced the rest of the secondary out of position to compensate. The same will happen tonight, with the exception that Sam Bradford is not Ryan Tannehill (in a good way), and will be able to convert those passing yards into touchdowns.
3. The Rams’ secondary will have their third three interception game
Kevin Kolb has yet to play against an elite secondary so far this season. He would have had to play against one in the opener at Arizona, but was busy riding the bench behind John Skelton until the last series of the game. Between then and now, the Kolb has faced the mediocre New England and overrated Philadelphia secondaries, before throwing two picks against the Miami Dolphins. The Rams have had an interception in every game this season, and snagged three interceptions twice already, against the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks. St. Louis will not only be the most dominate secondary that Kolb has faced, but also best pass rushing defensive line. That combination, mixed with the fact that is a road game, on a short week, in a dome, will spell trouble for Kolb and the Arizona receiving corps.
4. The Arizona Cardinals won’t get over 250 yards of total offense
The Cardinals are currently one of the worst offenses in the NFL, with the 25th ranked passing and 29th ranked rushing offenses in the league. The combination of Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells has spelled trouble more often than not, with untimely fumbles and extremely low yard per carry averages. Kevin Kolb is playing well above average, but still is not generating that many points. Instead, like the St. Louis Rams, they have relied on their defense to win games. However, unlike the Rams, the Cardinals are not a full strength defensively at this point in the season, which will put added pressure on the offense. Predicting only 250 yards for the game may seem extremely low, but when you consider that the team has only averaged 271 yards per game over the first quarter of the season, it isn’t really that far off from the norm. To meet this “goal” the Cardinals offense and Rams defense simply have to continue playing at their normal levels.
5. Greg Zuerlein from 60+
This is much less of a prediction and more of wishful thinking. After a historic night in the dome last Sunday, Zuerlein has a chance to completely re-write the books with another performance tonight. As previously mentioned, I think that Zuerlein will not see as much of the field on kickoff as he is used to, but I do think he will at least get two chances to split the uprights tonight. Cheers to Greg Zuerlein, in hopes that we see a kick from 64 or more yards for that NFL record.