Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cards take road baggage on the road again

Note: This column appears in the 10/30 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 10/31 issue of the Peoria Times

Last Sunday, after the St. Louis Rams were narrowly defeated by the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, the headline for the game recap on cbssportsline.com was: “Faulk grab lifts Patriots over Rams; St. Louis streak ends” I found this amusing because the “streak” being referred to was the two-game winning streak the Rams had enjoyed under the tutelage of newly anointed head coach Jim Haslett, which is the absolute bare minimum of consecutive wins that can logically be considered a “streak.” Not exactly DiMaggio-esque.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are on a streak of their own -- a brutal one-game losing streak. They are also on a one-hundred game (approximation) road-losing streak, which is why this upcoming game on Sunday in St. Louis has to scare you if you’re a Cardinals fan.

As dumb as the aforementioned headline was, the Rams are a vastly different, and much better team than they were during the season’s first few weeks. At rock bottom they were a team that couldn’t score and couldn’t defend. Scott Linehan mysteriously benched Pro-Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger, which was ultimately the point where he lost his team for good, as well as his job. Since then, the Rams have shocked the Redskins and Cowboys, and almost beat the defending AFC Champions (I love saying that) during a game in which they didn’t even have their stud rusher, Steven Jackson. Bulger has regained his form and even has a new receiving threat in the rapidly emerging Donnie Avery. Plus, the team expects to have Jackson back in time for Sunday.


You're right coach, Bulger IS stupid! And why DOES he spell his name with a "C?" Oh, wait...shhhhhh! He's coming...

None of this refutes the fact that the Cardinals are the better football team. The Rams’ strength is their offense, and few teams, if any, can match up offensively with the Arizona Cardinals. A unit led by Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett is leaps and bounds ahead of anything St. Louis has to offer defensively. Come Sunday morning, I’ll be surprised if the majority of the hundreds of thousands of pre-game “analysts” aren’t picking the Cardinals to win. But Cardinals fans know better.


So we're all picking the Cardinals. Hey wait -- who farted?

This is, after all, a road game. At the risk of beating the dead horse that was the theme of last week’s column, the Cardinals do not win on the road. This is also a divisional matchup that has the potential to drop the Cards to .500, which would leave the rest of the NFC West suddenly breathing down Arizona’s collective neck.

Well, enough. I’m as sick of writing about the Cardinals road woes’ as you are of reading about them, and if a win on Sunday doesn’t exactly exorcise the road demons, it will at least be a start. Winning at Carolina may have been a tall order, although it was a feat that most certainly could have been -- and should have been -- accomplished. Beating the once hapless and now rejuvenated Rams in St. Louis is something a potential playoff team simply has to do.

If the Cardinals don’t do anything stupid this weekend -- like, oh, I don’t know…fake a field goal on 4th-and-14 – my guess is that they pull this one out. In fact, I sense a headline coming: “Rams losing streak continues; Cards’ streak hits one.” A Cards’ win would also, by the way, end of my own personal streak of consecutive columns written about how the Cardinals can’t win on the road. That would be nice.

No comments: