Well this week’s TNF featured the Arizona Cardinals (4-0) against the St Louis Rams (2-2), but long story short that even an injured “Go-To Slot Receiver” in the Rams Danny Amendola as well as playing a “want-away” “franchise runningback” in Steven Jackson. A runningback that for seven years seems to singlehandedly be the only good thing offensively about that team who earlier tonight announced that he was going to “void” the final year of his current contract. But even this fact couldn’t slow the Rams down to finishing the contest with a 17-3 victory, a win that bumps them to 3-2 but then it knocks the Cardinals to 4-1. I believe that there is more to those records after a rather ordinary game though as neither team exhibited a good offensive outing as it really was the defense as Chris Long & James Laurinaitis were even called back to the TNF postgame show as they ask the “man of the match” to be a panelist, such was the defensive showing that two people were enough to fill up this requirement.
The media would tell you that the Rams beat the Cardinals and that the Cardinals weren’t who “we” thought they were. But in my opinion I think it was the loss of Levi Brown in preseason that was most telling as only up until this week 5 game against the Rams have the Cardinals had to contest against a solid pass rushing defense. All due respect to the Seahawks, Patriots, Eagles and Dolphins but this Rams defense as yes the numbers on their offense aren’t great but their defense is going in the right direction as Laurinaitis & Long were chosen for the 2011 Pro Bowl. Yes the Cardinals offense aren’t much better themselves but it’s the defense that really does all of the work for them as in the recent past it is that stout defense that stopped the explosive New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles (granted they had big parts in their offensive games out injured, Aaron Hernandez & Jeremy Maclin respectively). The Cardinals did and for the recent time being still have the superb kickoff/punt returning abilities of Patrick Peterson as well as his ability to be a great cornerback. Watching this game live (from 1:30am Friday morning here in England by the way) I was watching how the Rams “attacked” Peterson early (throwing to the receiver that was covered by Peterson) as if to say “come at us”, something the Cardinals couldn’t do as the Rams not much better offensively somehow ended up scoring on the opening drive for their offense as it was through their tight-end Lance Kendricks. Fast forward the 8 sacks Kolb suffered (a couple of times resembling that scene in Dawn of the Dead/Shaun of the Dead when all of the zombies are fighting amongst themselves to rip out intestines). Not to say that the Cardinals offensive line is bad, but just not as good as everyone thought.
Funniest thing about watching this Thursday Night Football game is that the Cardinals and Rams are the only NFC West teams yet to play the Packers. After the week 1 loss to the 49ers and “that loss” to the Seahawks in week 3, I’d rather not watch the Packers face them as I think it boils down to these ingredients in order to beat them. The Packers will need to get in Kolb’s face as the Cardinals showed that if they had to protect him, that is hard ask and with asking to do so even to be able to give him time to make a pass as he is known for holding onto the ball as he’d rather take the sack than throw an interception. With the Rams, the Packers would need to have an honest running attack for those Rams had the defense to stop the Cardinals but hopefully the Packers will be able to land more damage as Cedric Benson demands a higher level of respect. Though it’s the Packers defense and the running attack that worries me but I’m a real fan of both aspects of American Football, or at least more than “the pass” so why I find myself rooting for one of the most “pass happy offenses” in the league is anyone’s guess.