Gridiron Gab Week One Preview: Cardinals at Rams

The regular season is finally here as the Rams host the Arizona Cardinals to kick off the Sam Bradford era with a game against the old St. Louis Football Cardinals.

TV

The game will be shown live on TV in St. Louis now that the Edward Jones Dome has passed the threshold for a sellout.  Here’s the map showing where the game will be shown. Rams coverage is in green.  Basically if you are close to St. Louis, around Oklahoma City (Sam Bradford effect) or in Arizona, you will get the game on TV.  The game will be shown on your local FOX affiliate.

What to Watch For

  • Sam Bradford – Sam Bradford will be making his NFL starting regular season debut.  The Arizona Cardinals play a fairly complex 3-4 with a lot of strength in the front 7.  If Bradford and the offensive line can control the Cardinals front with runs, play action and quick passing, that would take a lot of sting out of the Cardinals defense.  The strength of the defense is right up the middle with Darnell Dockett at nose tackle, so Sam Bradford will get a good look at him.
  • Derek Anderson – The Cardinals are in a bit of a crisis mode with their quarterback.  Matt Leinart did not ascend like they hoped against hope he would.  So, they are forced to go with their scatter-armed backup QB as their starting QB in 2010.  Derek Anderson had a 44% completion rate in 2009 and has a career completion rate of 53%.  His career QB rating is 69.7.  The Cardinals also will be limited without their star #2 wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded to Baltimore.  Their offense should take a big step back with these two major players replaced.
  • Play Calling – The playbook was opened in preseason week 3 and prayers were answered.  The Rams continued to open the playbook up for Sam Bradford in the 4th preseason game.  One would hope that Pat Shurmur continues to  have faith in Sam Bradford and his wide receivers to give him the option to throw downfield.  If Bradford checks down, that is fine, but Shurmur should give him some deep options as well.
  • Mark Clayton – The Rams acquired Mark Clayton midweek and he is already taking a lot of snaps during practice at Donnie Avery’s old wide receiver spot.  How much will we see Clayton and how much will Bradford look for him?  The two worked together in the offseason at Oklahoma as Bradford prepared for the draft.  Both seem to have a solid connection already.  He should get more looks than expected in his first game.

It is not far off to say that the Cardinals are ripe for the taking.  They are without Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin along with several pieces on defense.  The Rams are at home with a “sold out” home crowd that should be pretty wound up, especially if Sam Bradford starts playing well.  The Rams home crowd, even half full in the preseason finale, have had a buzz of excitement that has not been seen in recent years.  The Rams have lost 7 straight to the Cardinals and are eager to end the losing streak.  It would not be a huge surprise to us following the Rams to see them pull the upset on Sunday.  It probably would be a surprise to the rest of the NFL world, however, and that would be pretty sweet.


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