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Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams: Know Thy Enemy Edition

For the St. Louis Rams, they have had a very rough past few seasons. They have managed to win just 6 games out of their last 41, currently making them one of the worst teams in the NFL. Part of this is because of the youth movement that has been brought upon their roster. No longer are the days of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Marshall Faulk tearing up the field. Those jobs now belong to running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Donnie Avery. Avery, a second year player, still has a lot to prove at his position but Jackson is just starting to hit his prime.

Jackson was drafted in the first round six years ago to come in and start the process of replacing Marshall Faulk, who was at the end of his career. In Faulk's final season he would mentor Jackson and try to mold him into a quality running back in the NFL. Faulk did that job very well as Jackson turned into one of the more prolific running backs in the NFL. Since becoming the starter he has had four straight seasons of 1,000 rushing yards and 250 receiving yards and is well on his way to making that five straight barring some sort of injury. Even though he has had a nice career thus far, it has been a different story against the Arizona Cardinals.

Against Arizona, Jackson has not been as good as he has been against some of the other teams. In eight games against them he has rushed for just 442 yards on 125 carries (3.5 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown. In the passing game he has received 164 yards on 22 catches and 1 touchdown. That's an average of just 55.3 yards rushing and 20.5 yards receiving in each game. Those are not very good numbers considering he is their most dangerous weapon on offense.

Arizona as a team has shut down Jackson most of the time but the player to look out for is inside linebacker Gerald Hayes. Hayes is expected to be back from a back injury that has forced him to miss two games these past two weeks, which is bad news for Jackson as he owned him in their last meeting. In the last game, Hayes helped hold Jackson to a total of 66 yards on 22 touches (3 yards per touch) and he forced 2 fumbles (both recovered by Arizona). This will undoubtedly be the match up to watch for in this game. Can Hayes and the rest of the Arizona defense continue to stop Jackson on Sunday?