Fifty-two days - That's how long it will have been since the last meeting of these two NFC West teams. Happier times way back then, with the Cardinals being 4-1 and the Rams topping .500 for the first time in 6 years. Tides shifted, and fortunes changed for both teams. Arizona's Kevin Kolb - and his display of incredible toughness - gave way after being battered more than any quarterback I can remember. After watching Kolb, I wondered if the NFL Hall of Fame should have a toughness wing; guys who proved their courage by standing tall in the face of adversity.
The Rams - the youngest team in the NFL - really didn't shock many of their fans when they began to stumble. Mistakes in the form of mind boggling penalties destroyed chances for wins, and in the best effort of the year against the San Francisco 49ers, miscues left the Rams with a tie.
I'm an Editor and writer for Turf Show Times - the SBNation site for all things St. Louis Rams. While neither the Cardinals and Rams are mathematically eliminated from the post season, the odds of winning the NFC West are long indeed. Arizona has a tough four game stretch to finish out the year, and St. Louis - after losing to the woeful Jets - have AZ (away), SF (home), BUF (away), MIN (home), Tampa (away), and finish with Seattle(away). If the Rams win two of their remaining games it would have to be considered amazing. The Rams haven't won a road game all year, and even the Buffalo game (December 6th) looks tough at this point.
...And then there's the whole Mayan calendar thing...
While this may seem the most depressing post you've ever read ( imagine me writing it while I eye sharp objects), I see positives for both teams. I firmly believe Arizona is a quarterback and two offensive linemen away from being a Top 10 NFL team. The Rams are a bit farther away than that, but with four first round picks in the next two NFL Drafts, their future remains bright.
The game this Sunday will be tough on both teams. The Cardinals may be starting a rookie quarterback behind a suspect offensive line. The Rams' Sam Bradford will have to face one of the best defenses in the NFL with an offensive line that made the Jets defense look terrific. (Pardon me while I eat a handful of Tums) How terrific? I made a bet with Gang Green Nation's Scott Salmon for taglines, so over the next week - with every comment I make - I'll be reminded of just how good the Rams made the Jets look.
No matter what happens this Sunday, the one thing I know is that the NFC West has the respect of other NFL teams. Rising from their "second bye week" status of last year, there isn't a team in the NFC West being taken for granted this season.
Offensive line has to be at the top of the Cardinal's draft wish list, but if Geno Smith or Matt Barkley fell far enough, would Whisenhunt take a flyer with a first round pick? Speaking of Whisenhunt, while I don't see him being on the coaching hot seat, what position coaches on his staff need to be replaced?
If Arizona drafts in the Top 15, what offensive lineman do you hope is there? Quarterback? Other position(s) of need?
I'll be dropping in - along with assorted TSTers - all week to answer questions, and ask quite a few more. As always, if anyone from TST forgets they are guests here, please don't hesitate to let me know.
I'd like to ask a favor if I can? I have a short story in a contest over at America's next Author. If you could drop in and give it a review, I'd be beyond grateful. Its the only sports related story out of thousands of entries.