While on the surface a matchup between the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals is one of the least sexy Thursday Night Football games NFL fans could imagine, each team has been playing surprisingly well so far this season.
This could be the most intriguing matchup of Week 5.
Despite the short week between games, each team will be looking to prove their worth to the rest of the NFL by winning this nationally televised marquee matchup.
With Arizona fighting to stay undefeated and St. Louis looking to move to 3-2 in the tough NFC West, all bets are off in this divisional battle.
Where: Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis
When: Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
Betting Line: Arizona (-2), according to Bovada.
Listen: News Talk 92.3 FM (Arizona); ESPN 101 FM (St. Louis)
Players to Watch
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
One of the biggest knocks on Arizona is that is has arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL with Larry Fitzgerald, yet the team doesn’t have the quarterback to get him the ball.
With Kevin Kolb under center the last two games, Fitzgerald has caught 17 catches for over 175 yards and two touchdowns. There are inevitably still questions around Kolb’s consistency, but this is a step in the right direction.
The Rams have struggled at times defensively, but their stout pass defense is 11th in the NFL with just 213.5 yards allowed per game. If the Cardinals want to move on to 5-0, they need to find Larry Fitzgerald early and often to get the St. Louis defense on their heels.
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams
The Rams have played well this season, but they have yet to get the kind of performance from their star running back Steven Jackson that the team has needed to put games away.
Despite the Cardinals 15th-ranked run defense and a nagging groin injury, Jackson is the key to the Rams' victory Thursday. If he goes over 100 yards rushing, St. Louis will not lose.
The biggest problem this year for the Rams has been the porous play of the offensive line, but Jackson’s tough running style can force any defense to be honest with their coverages.
If the veteran has a big game, it will open up the passing attack and give Sam Bradford the time in the pocket to make clean throws.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The biggest key for the Cardinals on Thursday will be giving Kevin Kolb enough time to make solid choices in the pocket. When Kolb has the time to go through his progressions, he has proven to be deadly accurate.
With that said, the Arizona's offensive line has been mediocre at best. Kolb needs to shorten his drop and pick apart the Rams' secondary with quick passes, just as he did on the final drive against the Dolphins in Week 4.
It was when he was rushing too much, though, that the QB started throwing interceptions. If Kolb can keep the turnover slate clean, Arizona will walk away with a big win.
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