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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at DET WAS at HOU STL at ARZ   updated

Prediction: STL 20, ARZ 23

The Rams have now played surprisingly well at home and surprisingly poorly on the road and in both cases the once vaunted offense has been less than "The greatest show on turf". The Cardinals have managed basically the same pattern so back at home they should have the edge here. Both teams have played the 49ers and only the Cards beat them but that was back in Arizona. With the Rams offense struggling and the Cardinals trying to establish a rushing game, this match-up isn't nearly as much fun as in years past.

The home team always won this match-up in 2005, with the Cardinals taking week 11 38-28 and the Rams winning 17-12 in week two.

St. Louis Rams (1-1)
1 18-10 DEN 10 --- @SEA
2 13-20 @SF 11 --- @CAR
3 --- @ARZ 12 --- SF
4 --- DET 13 --- ARZ
5 --- @GB 14 --- CHI
6 --- SEA 15 --- @OAK
7 Open Bye 16 --- WAS
8 --- @SD 17 --- @MIN
9 --- KC - - MON
STL at ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 220,1
RB Steven Jackson 80,1 10 0
RB Tony Fisher 10 20 0
TE J. Klopfenstein 0 20 0
WR Torry Holt 0 100,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 60 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 10 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: So far the Rams have posted eight field goals against only one touchdown this year and that just falls well below expectations. Installing the new passing game by Scott Linehan takes time and Steven Jackson has run very well, but the lack of points on the scoreboard is troubling. The Rams defense has been improved which only makes the problem worse for fantasy fans.

Quarterback: After two weeks of 2006, Marc Bulger is not getting bashed about nearly as much as he did in the old Martz offense, but he also only has one touchdown pass so far and has only averaged around 200 yards per game. If Miami last year is an indicator (as they installed the Linehan scheme then), the passing attack may not take off until mid-season.

Bulger played in the week 2 game against the Cardinals and had 216 yards and one score. He had 224 yards and two touchdowns in week 11 but was injured during that game.

Running Backs: While the passing game may be lagging, Steven Jackson has enjoyed his new role as the primary back and now has 224 rushing yards on the season with two efforts over 100 yards and a 5.1 yard rushing average. He has yet to score this season but is at least adding about 20 receiving yards per game. Jackson could have a bit tougher time this week since LT Orlando Pace suffered a bad concussion last week but Pace did not play in the second half last week and it did not affect his numbers at all in San Francisco since he had nine runs for 44 yards after halftime.

Jackson ran for 93 yards and a score as a visitor in Arizona last year but only had six yards on 12 carries back at home in week 11.

Wide Receivers: Torry Holt caught the only St. Louis touchdown of the year when he faced the 49ers last week but he only ended with five catches for 30 yards. Added to his seven catches for 80 yards in week one and Holt is trailing expectations during the learning phase of the Linehan offense. Isaac Bruce has five catches in each of his games for around 70 yards and remains a solid though unspectacular possession receiver. The passing scheme has been surprisingly slanted toward shorter passes so far and that is not indicative of a normal Linehan offense. That will change though none too soon for Holt owners.

Holt has always enjoyed facing the Cardinals and had games of 70 and 129 yards with a score in each last year. Bruce had 64 and 83 yards with a score in the home game.

Tight Ends: After failing to throw a single pass to the position in week one, the rookie Joe Klopfenstein reeled in three catches for 34 yards last week. The offense has been regularly using two tight ends though almost exclusively as blockers for Jackson.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals defense has been about average so far in most categories but they have given up two rushing scores in each of the first two games. No runner has exceeded 89 rushing yards yet and that was Alexander in Seattle last week. Look for a solid game from Jackson here that will likely dip below 100 yards but should grant him his first rushing score of the season.

Bulger has never played very well away from home and in Arizona in particular. Expect him to maintain his average pace here with around 220 passing yards and one score that should end up with Holt again. So far the only player that has been really effective against the Cardinals has been the #1 wideout of their opponents.

Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
1 34-27 SF 10 --- DAL
2 10-21 @SEA 11 --- DET
3 --- STL 12 --- @MIN
4 --- @ATL 13 --- @STL
5 --- KC 14 --- SEA
6 --- CHI 15 --- DEN
7 --- @OAK 16 --- @SF
8 --- @GB 17 --- @SD
9 Open Bye - - MON
ARZ vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 250,1
RB Edgerrin James 80,1 20 0
TE Leonard Pope 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 80 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 100,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 30 0
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals opened big against the 49ers but the Seattle game fell in line with last year. The rushing game with Edgerrin James is much better than last year and yet far below what he did with the Colts. As was often the case last year, the Cardinals play much better at home than on the road and Warner's numbers bear that out. This week in hot Arizona, the Cardinals will rely even more on their rushing game to wear down the Rams and take the win.

Quarterback: After a monster game to open the season, Kurt Warner settled back to only 231 yards and one score against the Seahawks last week. Perhaps the biggest benefit of adding James to the roster has been the improved ability to rush and with that the decreased need to have Warner spend every play going back to pass and getting blasted. He may actually last past mid-season at this rate.

Warner threw for 327 and 285 yards against the Rams in 2005 and was scoreless at home but had three touchdowns in St. Louis.

Running Backs: While Edgerrin James has far lower numbers than he did as a Colt, compared to previous Cardinals backs he remains a stud. James has only gained 137 yards on 44 carries this season but that's astronomic compared to 2005 plus he already has a rushing score for the team. No other tailback had a carry last week, so whatever rushing opportunity there is will be all James.

Wide Receivers: Away from the desert last week, Larry Fitzgerald only had four catches for 52 yards while Anquan Boldin snared six balls for 62 yards. The lone passing score went to Bryant Johnson on his only catch against the Seahawks. Back at home this week, the receiving numbers should improve here.

Boldin turned in games of 119 and 105 yards against the Rams in 2005 while Fitzgerald had 70 and 105 yards. Both players scored only once against the Rams and both came in the game in St. Louis.

Tight Ends: The Cardinals still are not using the position for more than one or two catches a week by Adam Bergen and even he fumbled last week when he did make a catch. Leonard Pope had no passes last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams have allowed around 140 rushing yards and a score per game to opposing runners this year but those lofty numbers are likely beyond James this week. Look for a rushing score here and another moderate showing in yardage.

Warner goes against a much improved secondary from last year and one that has only allowed one touchdown so far this year. Expect just the one score here from Warner with moderate yardage that will favor Fitzgerald the most.