The St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals meet in an NFC West showdown this week between two teams that have essentially become irrelevant in the 2012 NFL playoff picture. Neither team has beaten an opponent other than each other in the last seven calendar weeks.
This is still a divisional rivalry, however, and both teams can be expected to give it their all for bragging rights this week.
It probably won't be pretty, but this game will likely be a close one.
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium
When: Sunday, November 25 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Betting Line: Arizona (-3), according to Bovada
St. Louis Injury Report (via Yahoo! as of Nov. 21, 2012)
|Darian Stewart S||Questionable||Knee|
|Eugene Sims DE||Questionable||Knee|
|Austin Pettis WR||Questionable||Toe|
|Mario Haggan LB||Questionable||Thigh|
Arizona Injury Report (via Yahoo! as of Nov. 21, 2012)
|Greg Toler CB||Questionable||Hamstring|
|Kerry Rhodes S||Probable||Back|
|Kevin Kolb QB||Out||Ribs|
|Todd Heap TE||Questionable||Knee|
|Jamell Fleming CB||Questionable||Back|
|Calais Campbell DE||Questionable||Calf|
What's at Stake?
Honestly, not much.
This game has essentially come down to being played solely for bragging rights. Neither team is likely to compete for a playoff spot, and after starting the season a combined 6-2, the teams have gone 1-10-1.
St. Louis RB Steven Jackson
He's far from an elite running back anymore, but Jackson is solid, and he is playing in a favorable matchup against a Cardinals defense that ranks No. 21 against the run this season.
In his last two games he is averaging 91.0 yards per game, and that includes a 100-yard performance against a stingy San Francisco defense. He is also averaging 13 fantasy points per contest.
With a favorable matchup on Sunday, Jackson is worth a start.
Arizona Defense and Special Teams
Really, I wouldn't start anyone on Arizona this week other than perhaps Larry Fitzgerald, but the team's defense and special teams may be worth a look.
The Rams are allowing 7.4 points to opposing defenses this season, which is 0.6 more than the league average. The team has also turned the ball over 12 times (nine interceptions), while the Cards have forced 22 turnovers (14 interceptions) this season.
Patrick Peterson almost single-handedly makes this defense worth looking at, since he can come up with big turnovers, take back a punt or a kick, or even score a defensive touchdown.
What They Are Saying
Well would you look at that. The Cardinals forced six turnovers against the Atlanta Falcons last week, and could be getting hot.
I'd say three turnovers this week makes the defense worth looking at for fantasy owners.
In addition to that, the team also has yet to decide which quarterback will be starting on Sunday.
Key Matchup: Steven Jackson vs. Arizona defense
Jackson is probably the biggest offensive playmaker that will be playing on Sunday (with the possible exception of Fitzgerald, although it is more difficult to get him the ball).
If Jackson has a big game, we could see the Rams win, but if Arizona can shut him down and force the Rams to throw against the Cardinals' No. 5 pass defense then the Cards should leave this game victorious.
It's going to be an ugly, sloppy game on Sunday, but I expect home-field advantage to help lift the Cardinals over the Rams for revenge of a Week 5 loss, which marked the only win for either team in their last six games.
Cardinals 13, Rams 10 (OT)