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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week

Prediction: ARI 24, STL 27

Update: Steven Jackson is questionable to play because of a quadriceps injury and he will be a gametime decision. Jackson was limited in every practice this week. Antonio Pittman will take the start if Jackson cannot play. I am lowering Jackson's projections and he may not even play. Check to see if he is active but be aware that he will not be 100% in the best of all cases.

The Cardinals come off a loss but even at 4-3 still have a two game lead over the rest of the NFC West even though they are only 1-3 on the road this year. The Rams are only 1-2 at home and were swept by the Cards in 2007, losing 31-34 in St. Louis and later 19-48 in week 17 in Arizona.

Arizona Cardinals (4-3)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 23-13 -2.5 41.5
2 MIA 31-10 -7 38.5
3 @WAS 17-24 +3 42
4 @NYJ 35-56 +3 45
5 BUF 41-17 -1 45
6 DAL 30-26 +5 50
7 BYE - - -
8 @CAR 23-27 +4.5 43.5
9 @STL - -3 49
10 SF - - -
11 @SEA - - -
12 NYG - - -
13 @PHI - - -
14 STL - - -
15 MIN - - -
16 @NE - - -
17 SEA - - -
ARI @ STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     290,2
RB Edgerrin James 40 10  
RB Tim Hightower 30,1 20  
WR Anquan Boldin   80,1  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   100,1  
WR Steve Breaston   70  
PK Neil Rackers 3 XP 1 FG  

Pregame Notes: Ken Whisenhunt came to the Cardinals in 2007 with the promise of a balanced offense and then like his predecessors, the Cardinals continue on as a passing machine. Last week in Carolina, it was 13 carries versus 49 throws. The previous week when Dallas showed up, it was 16 carries versus 30 passes. At some point all Arizona coaches go with what works and that is always the pass. This next three game stretch gives the Cards a run through the division and a chance to put the division title squarely in their corner.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner is currently #2 in passing yards with 2089 yards and he comes off his third 300+ yard game of the season. Since week one, Warner has passed for at least two scores in every game and even had his two best efforts of the year come in the two most recent road games. Aside from the debacle in New York against the Jets, he has only thrown three interceptions this year but has 14 touchdowns.

Warner passed for 190 yards and one score in St. Louis last season. He later had 300 yards and three scores at home.

Running Backs: There is speculation fed by some coachspeak that the backfield for the Cardinals may be using Tim Hightower more in the rushing game at the expense of Edgerrin James. The rushing game has languished the past month with James never having more than 57 rushing yards in a game and only averaging 2.9 yards per carry during that time. But Hightower has fared little better with around 3.0 yards per carry in those games as well. But he does have more of a burst and is more likely the future than the 30-year old James. The duo has split carries for the last two games.

James rushed for 88 yards on 26 carries in St. Louis last year.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin missed two games after his brutal hit in New York but returned to what was supposed to be limited play against the Cardinals. All he did was to catch nine passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns and add 30 more yards on an end around run. He has scored in each of the last four games that he has played. Larry Fitzgerald has been similarly productive with four 100+ yard games on the season already and five touchdowns as well. What makes this offense even more productive is that Steve Breaston dropped back to the #3 role last week and yet still had nine catches for 91 yards. This is now the best three wideout set in the league.

Fitzgerald had a great game in St. Louis last year, catching nine passes for 136 yards and one score. Boldin did not play that week.

Tight Ends: Jerame Tuman filled in for the injured Leonard Pope last week and had a very uncharacteristic 41 yards on three catches. Most games the Cards do not have more than a catch from their tight ends.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams have really turned around in the recent weeks with wins over Dallas and Washington but how much were those trap games and how much a true progress made by the team? The Rams have been horrible against the run away from home but at least decent when in St. Louis and the Cards are not going to bring a run-heavy offense into this week. Look for the barely moderate yardage from James and a good chance that Hightower gets a short score.

Warner faces a secondary that has played well but that has been little tested since most teams just run against them. They had the good fortune to face Brad Johnson instead of Tony Romo and Warner will be the best quarterback that they have faced so far. Look for at least the two scores that Warner always gets and healthy yardage. The Rams at home have not allowed a 100+ yard receiver but this week should break that streak.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 2 20 1 29 21 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    STL 23 30 27 18 26 23

St. Louis Rams (2-5)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @PHI 3-38 +7 44
2 NYG 13-41 +8.5 41.5
3 @SEA 13-37 +10 44
4 BUF 14-31 +8 41.5
5 BYE - - -
6 @WAS 19-17 +13.5 44
7 DAL 34-14 +7 44
8 @NE 16-23 +7 43.5
9 ARZ - +3 49
10 @NYJ - - -
11 @SF - - -
12 CHI - - -
13 MIA - - -
14 @ARZ - - -
15 SEA - - -
16 SF - - -
17 @ATL - - -
STL vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     190,2
RB Steven Jackson 40 20 GTD
RB Antonio Pittman 60,1 20  
WR Torry Holt   50,1  
WR Donnie Avery   60,1  
WR Keenan Burton   30  
PK Josh Brown 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss in New England halted a heady two game winning streak but the Rams are back at home with a chance to get one more win before the schedule toughens up for a while. The offense has greatly improved since Linehan was removed and now Marc Bulger has finally notched his first 300 yard passing game of the season. The Rams still have not been favored in any game this year but at least this is the closest they have come and and should be the highest scoring game so far.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger finally had a big game when he passed for 301 yards and one score against the Patriots but that was thanks in large part to Donnie Avery's 69-yard touchdown catch. And Bulger only has four passing touchdowns over six games played and never more than one per week. And Bulger's next best game is only 184 yards. This is not a pass heavy attack anymore and the personnel there are not as talented as the old Rams. Bulger is connecting with Avery better and that bodes well for the rest of the season but how much remains to be seen.

Frerotte was the quarterback in week five last year when he passed for 262 yards and three scores against the visiting Cardinals.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson was held out last Sunday because of his quadriceps injury but HC Jim Haslett said that he expected Jackson to play this week and that he looked good in practice already this week. Antonio Pittman did well enough in replacement with 19 carries for 83 yards but Jackson has been on a roll recently with 280 rushing yards, 94 receiving yards and four touchdowns over the last two home games. And those went against the defenses of Buffalo and Dallas. Jackson has been improving as a runner while maintaining his role as a receiver.

Jackson did not play in the home game against the Cards in 2007 but Brian Leonard rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries.

Wide Receivers: Torry Holt continues his slide into obscurity with a three catch, 28 yard effort in New England and that is not even his worst game so far. Holt only has one touchdown on the season and has averaged only around 40 yards per week. He is literally a shell of his former self. Donnie Avery is picking up some of the slack now with a score in each of the last two games and the big 69-yard touchdown catch against the Pats. The rookie Keenan Burton finally had some playing time as well with three catches for 28 yards on Sunday. But overall this unit is little related to the productive players in the recent past.

Holt turned in 89 yards on five receptions with one score against the visiting Cardinals last year.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value since Randy McMichael was lost for the season.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals rushing defense has been pretty good overall and last week was the first time any runner had topped 100 yards against them. This is Jackson's team though and he is healthy again so expect a very nice game here with at least one score and well over 100 net yards.

Bulger goes against a secondary that has allowed at least two scores in the last three road games but Bulger hasn't managed that feat quite yet. But if he were to - it would be in this game. Have to like the wideouts more this week than any before.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 31 25 22 28 17 13
Preventing Fantasy Points    ARI 31 13 29 20 13 22

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