University of Phoenix Stadium
Date: Sunday, December 5, 2010
2:15 p.m. Mountain Time
Type Of Turf: Natural
Meeting Of The Year: Second
St. Louis 13
Arizona (-3.5) 17
St. Louis 5-6-0
Season Record Vs. Spread:
St. Louis 8-3-0
St. Louis (R) 1-4-0
Arizona (H) 2-2-0
Home/Road Record Vs. Spread:
St. Louis (R) 4-1-0
Arizona (H) 1-3-0
Record On Natural Turf:
St. Louis 1-3-0
Record On Natural Turf Vs. Spread:
St. Louis 4-0-0
Rams-Cardinals PreviewBy NOEY KUPCHAN
2010-12-01 14:27:53 -
After finishing with the worst record in the NFL last season, the St. Louis Rams surprisingly find themselves in a tie for the NFC West lead.
Sam Bradford seems to be making all the difference.
St. Louis will look to win back-to-back road games for the first time in more than three years when it faces the struggling Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Rams, who went 1-15 last season, haven't won consecutive games as visitors since defeating New Orleans on Nov. 11, 2007, and San Francisco a week later. They have an opportunity to achieve that again after holding on for a 36-33 victory at Denver last Sunday.
"This was a huge step for this team, taking it to the next level," said Bradford, who set career highs with 308 passing yards and three touchdowns. "It's obviously something we've struggled with earlier in the year. But to finally clear that hurdle, I feel like only things can get better now."
The Rams (5-6) scored on five consecutive possessions during the first half and put up their highest point total of the season, but they know there is still a lot of work ahead after surrendering a season-worst 20 points in the fourth quarter.
"We have to find ways to close games out," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You go into a fourth quarter up 33-13, you'd like to think you could finish it the right way.
"But we'll get better at that. I like the fact we're able to work on that after getting our fifth win."
Bradford is averaging 264.0 passing yards over his last three games, and could be in line for another big performance against a shaky Cardinals defense allowing 249.3 yards per game through the air.
Since throwing eight interceptions in his first five games, Bradford has been picked off just once in his past six contests, and has played a big part in his team's plus-4 turnover differential. St. Louis registered a minus-13 mark in that category last season, tied for 30th in the league.
While the Rams are feeling good about their current direction, their offense took a hit with the loss of tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who sustained a high ankle sprain against Denver that is expected to sideline him four to six weeks.
Hoomanawanui is tied for the team lead with three TD receptions, two coming in the last two games.
Two-time defending division champion Arizona can't seem to snap out of its funk, but a matchup with the Rams could be coming at the perfect time.
The Cardinals (3-8), winners of eight straight against the Rams, have lost six in a row overall, their longest skid since dropping eight in a row Sept. 17-Nov. 12, 2006.
The frustration of losing showed when quarterback Derek Anderson blew up at the media after he was asked why he was smiling on the sidelines during a 27-6 loss to San Francisco on Monday night.
"Sure there's tension. Guys want to win,'' Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's what this game is all about. Everybody talks about the money that pro athletes make, but when you come to play in the games on Sunday, guys want to win football games and they get frustrated when they don't.
"To get to this level, you have to have a degree of pride and our pride has been hurt because of the way we have played."
Anderson, who will start against St. Louis, completed 16 of 35 for 196 yards with an interception. He failed to throw a TD pass for the first time in five games, but received a vote of confidence from Whisenhunt.
"He's in here every morning, trying to get better. I have seen him make improvement over the last few weeks. That's really what you look for and I think he gives us the best chance to win right now."
Anderson's 52.8 completion percentage ranks last among quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts.
Arizona's rushing attack compiled 13 yards on 11 carries against the 49ers - its lowest total since the Chicago Cardinals were held to minus-1 yards Oct. 18, 1953. Finding running room against St. Louis may not be that difficult, however, with the Rams having allowed 128.5 yards on the ground in the last two games.
The Cardinals are averaging 17.6 points per contest - 29th in the NFL.
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