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On a short week, the Arizona Cardinals will have to follow a few simple steps in order to get a quality win over their divisional foes.
The Cardinals get their first nationally televised game of the regular season today as they take on the St. Louis Rams in a divisional matchup. The Rams are coming off a big win against another NFC West opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, and hope to maintain that momentum going into their Thursday Night Football game.
Right now, the Cardinals have plenty of issues to worry about. Their offense looked downright flat for three quarters against the Dolphins and they are dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball. In order to beat the Rams, the team will need to focus on the game, refusing to look forward to their next game against the Bills in two weeks.
The Rams are often an underrated team in terms of the individual talent that they have on their football team. One of the stronger areas is along the defensive line, where Chris Long and Robert Quinn are both impressive pass rushers in their 4-3 front. The Cardinals' offensive line, specifically, the tackles, need to protect quarterback Kevin Kolb better than they did last week. If they can't, it may be a long game offensively for Arizona.
On the flip side, the Cardinals need to pressure third year QB, Sam Bradford. Allowing a young talent too much time in the pocket will always spell trouble. Bradford, although he needs more, has a couple of promising weapons in Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and Steve Smith.
While the Cards will look to limit the damage done by Bradford, they will probably be willing to let him beat them through the air as they try to fend off Pro Bowl running back, Steven Jackson. Jackson has always been a tough runner for the Rams, no matter how injured he may be. Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson also add some nice elements to the Rams' ground game.
Pressuring the quarterback, protecting their own and limiting the effective of St. Louis' running game are very important, but what may be the biggest thing is Arizona sparking a run game of their own. So far, Ryan Williams has seen limited touches and his effectiveness has been sporadic. Getting him the ball against a poor run defending team will be key.
If Arizona can do all of this, they should be exiting the Edward Jones Dome with an undefeated record.