The Arizona Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams. Turf Show Times is our SB Nation sister site. We already had writer 3k on the Revenge of the Birds Radio podcast preview, but he also graciously answered a few more questions. Here is what he has to say about his Rams.
The Rams were able to put up 34 points in Week 1, but since then only a combined 16. How will the Rams be able to put up points against a (so far) stingy Cardinals defense?
I doubt it. Then again, that's usually when the Rams explode for 30 plus. That's the real key to realizing it's just impossible to predict the Rams' performances in the short-run: inconsistency.
The reality is that the Rams were built on the back of the running game. With teams keying in on stopping it (especially after Week 1), the entire Rams' playbook has to be cut in half. Without the run, they can't set up much of the system. The play action doesn't draw well without it and the misdirection is too easy to snuff out. So if the Rams are going to be successful, they've got to do more with the ground game.
After missing Week 1, RB Tre Mason is averaging 8 carries and 21 yards per game. The Rams' first-round selection, and 10th overall pick, in the 2015 NFL Draft made his debut last week picking up 9 yards on 6 carries. Its pitiful, though of course you can always say that when you're last in the league in yards per game.
How much of Todd Gurley is expected this weekend?
The answer has to be "more". I don't know in terms of carries or plays nor do I really care as long as it's just more. It has to be more than the six carries he had last week. He has to get more than nine yards on those rushes. And to get the ball in his hands on just one dumpoff is a waste as well. Now I recognize it was Gurley's first game back from an ACL tear in his last collegiate season at Georgia last November. And on a rehab front alone, it's very impressive to be able to get back on the field at any level let alone to make the jump from college to NFL in that timeframe. So as is the case with any 10th overall pick, the fan base is hungry to see more of him. At this point, there's no reason to think that won't be the case.
How will the Rams approach the league's top scoring team?
Well, I don't think there's going to be too much adjustments on defense this season. They brought all 11 starters back from 2014 along with Def. Coordinator Gregg Williams, and they're clearly comfortable with the system. There's not a ton of run support up the middle, but the intent is to clog it and push backs into east-west lanes and let the numbers swallow the back. In the pass, the Rams give you the middle underneath. You guys might remember it well. If you're disciplined about it, you can have 5-yard routes all day. Most teams, though, get antsy and if the run breaks down, it only takes one mistake to get to 4th down or feed the Rams a turnover. So the key is just discipline. Big Ben had it last week and constantly moved the chains early on. Once they went to Le'Veon Bell and the ground game slowed, they got more desperate to work the intermediate part of the field and the Rams' shell is just very hard to crack there and beyond as well as down the sidelines. So I expect the gameplan for you guys to come out and work that soft middle and then see who wins the adjustments; your offense finding another pressure point they can win at consistently or the Rams' defense closing everything else down and getting the ball back to the St. Louis offense.
How has Nick Foles looked? Which would you have, Foles or Sam Bradford?
He's been fine, overall. Heck last week, I thought he actually managed the game very well despite just putting up 6 points. The problem was what was available to him and the lack of execution from his pass catchers. The Rams' offense isn't going to be some high-octane unit. We know this. Foles doesn't have to put up big numbers for the fantasy crowd. He has to avoid costly turnovers (he has overall, though the late INT last week stung) and allow others to be the stars. That's the part that hasn't come up yet, especially on the ground, and you can't fault Foles for that.
In terms of Foles v. Bradford, I'd rather have whoever's healthiest this season and beyond. The issue was less about the quality of Sam's performances for the Rams than the quantity. Even though the quality was lacking (again, we're talking about Rams offenses), the need wasn't terribly high. But the dropoff from Bradford (or Foles) to Kellen Clemens/Shaun Hill/Austin Davis is one that no team can withstand. So I'm comfortable rolling with Nick as long as he's still throwing in Week 17.
Give us your game prediction:
I'll go Rams 12, Cardinals 6. As a Rams fan, you throw out logic. You throw out whatever lessons you've learned from the tape. Listen to the cosmos. The football gods are in charge.