Cardinals coach Steve Wilks is happy with the way his rookies are progressing.
Michael Chow, Arizona Republic
The Cardinals meet the Rams on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
The game kicks off at 2:05 p.m. and is televised on Channel 10.
Bob McManaman offers his scouting report and prediction:
Cardinals on offense
As ferocious as the Rams’ defensive front of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers can be, the Rams’ defense can be exploited. Whether the Cardinals can do that is another story, but the Rams only rank 21st in rush defense (allowing 123.3 yards per game), 17th in pass defense (239.8) and 20th overall in total defense (363.1). It will be interesting to see how much maximum protection the Cardinals decide to employ in front of rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, but we should see it from time to time. The blockers will have their hands full, either way, especially with Donald, who can attack from any point along the line of scrimmage and uses his brilliant speed to get into the backfield. The Rams are gifted in the secondary, especially at cornerback, so running back David Johnson once again will be counted upon as the Cardinals’ primary weapon on offense. Using him and rookie Chase Edmonds on screens and wheel routes could prove to be very effective if Rosen has any time at all to throw. When Rosen does throw, look for him to lock on veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in what could prove to be the last home game in Fitzgerald’s 15-year run with the Cardinals.
Cardinals on defense
After allowing a season-high 215 rushing yards to the Falcons last week in Atlanta, the Cardinals’ defense got lit up by the coaching staff and each other during film review on Monday. We’ll see if that makes any difference come game day against the Rams, particularly if running back Todd Gurley is a full go despite dealing with knee inflammation. Even Gurley at 80 percent is better than most in the league and when he’s healthy, he’s the best in the business. Gurley leads the league with 21 total touchdowns and ranks second in rushing with 1,251 yards. He’s also a threat as a pass catcher. If he is limited in any way, keep an eye on newly-signed C.J. Anderson, who ran for 1,000 yards last season with the Broncos. He was only added to the Rams’ roster this week, but he’s still a viable threat in his own right. The pass rush will have to be on its game in this one if it hopes to add to the troubles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been facing lately. He’s been dealing with accuracy issues and ball security the past few weeks and the Cardinals can take advantage of that if they can hit him, hurry him and drop him. Patrick Peterson is going to need help if Arizona wants to contain the Rams’ trio of stud receivers in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds.
Cardinals practice report: Defense not immune to woeful season
Michael Chow, Arizona Republic
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein is 24 of 27 on field goal attempts this season and punter Johnny Hekker is as good as they come with a 46.3 average. Cardinals’ punter Andy Lee ranks among league leaders in all statistical fronts but didn’t get any Pro Bowl consideration, which could motivate him during these final two games. As usual with the Cardinals, penalties keep popping up every single week during punts and kickoffs and if that continues again on Sunday, it will only add to their disadvantage. If returner Pharoh Cooper gets a chance to play for the Cardinals after being claimed off waivers from the Rams, he could be a difference maker. Probably not enough to swing this game, but a difference maker.
NFL DRAFT ORDER: Arizona Cardinals in position for No. 1 pick in 2019 NFL draft
The Rams have been in a quagmire for the past month it seems, but something tells me they’ll solve their problems and return to Super Bowl-contender status when they meet the Cardinals. They turn even the worst of teams into champions for at least a week. Sorry, but I still think the Cardinals finish 3-13, which means another loss this week and one more next Sunday in Seattle.
Prediction: Rams 36, Cardinals 13
Reach McManaman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Tuesday afternoon between 3-6 on 1580-AM The Fanatic with Roc and Manuch and every Wednesday afternoon between 1-3 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.
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