TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: Arizona Cardinals At St. Louis Rams

Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams
(credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Does Bruce Arians know what he has gotten himself into with the Cardinals? His team is in the tough NFC West. He is banking on Carson Palmer giving the offense a lift, and that’s far from a sure thing. Palmer is going to have a hard time getting away from pressure, but if he does get decent protection he should be able to get the ball to WR’s Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Winner The first year of the Jeff Fisher regime brought a new level of professionalism to the Rams that had been missing for years. Fisher developed a solid relationship with quarterback Sam Bradford, who delivers the ball accurately and plays with intelligence and toughness. If the Rams are going to have any chance this year, they must keep Bradford upright for 16 games.
Offense
Winner Fitzgerald remains one of the best receivers in the league, and he is expecting to have a big year in working with the strong-armed Palmer. Fitzgerald caught 71 passes for 798 yards and 4 TDs last year, and he would like to increase his yardage and TD totals. Floyd is fast and physical and he should be a solid complement to Fitzgerald. Rashard Mendenhall (knee) will try to give the Cardinals a credible running game.
The biggest problem the Rams will have this year is a lack of explosiveness on offense. Veteran RB Steven Jackson has moved on to Atlanta and Daryl Richardson does not look like an adequate replacement. Chris Givens can get open and catch the ball, but he is not a gamebreaker. Speedy rookie Tavon Austin must show he can make the jump from West Virginia to the NFL.
Defense
The Cardinals know that they should be competitive on defense after finishing fifth against the pass in 2012. Look for DE Calais Campbell to have a huge year because of his athletic ability, long reach and instincts. LB Karlos Dansby is a big hitter and a solid tackler who finished with 133 stops last year. CB Patrick Peterson is one of the best cover men in the league and he is looking to build off the seven interceptions he had last season.
Winner The Rams are putting together an impressive defense. They are strongest at the DE position where Chris Long and Robert Quinn combined for 22 sacks last year. Long is a relentless pass rusher while Quinn can get around the corner. Linebacker James Laurinaitis had 142 tackles last year and has excellent instincts. Cortland Finnegan is one of the most physical cornerbacks in the league.
Special Teams
Winner The Cardinals have a chance to rank at the top of the special teams rankings this year. PK Jay Feely made 25-of-28 FG attempts last year. P Dave Zastudil is an excellent directional kicker. Peterson is an explosive punt returner and Javier Arenas can take kickoffs back a long way.
The Rams went with a pair of rookies last year in PK Greg Zuerlein and P Johnny Hekker. Zuerlein may have the strongest leg in the league, but he needs to improve his consistency after making 23-of-31 FG attempts last year. Hekker averaged 45.8 yards per punt and he placed 22 punts inside the opponents’ 20 yard line.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

(credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Bruce Arians did an excellent job last year when he was asked to fill in for Chuck Pagano last year with the Colts. He brings creativity and energy to the Cardinals. While the Cardinals will respond to him, the Rams have the edge in this game with the underrated Bradford at quarterback.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to throw a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots

    The Steelers and Patriots meet in Foxboro for the right to go to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

  2. ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

    Two MVP candidates at quarterback meet up in Atlanta for the right to go to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

  3. GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

    The Packers look to avenge a loss to the Cowboys in the regular season.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS St. Louis

KMOX Podcasts
High School Spotlight
As Heard On KMOX

Listen Live