8:20 PM ET, October 4, 2012
Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis, MO
The Cardinals look to remain undefeated when they try for an eighth consecutive road win over the improved St. Louis Rams on Thursday night.
With three victories by four or fewer points, Arizona (4-0) joins Houston and Atlanta as the NFL's lone unbeaten teams.
"We are a good team," said coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose club's eight wins in 2011 came by seven or fewer points -- four in overtime. "We play well together and our guys make plays."
Off to its best start since Jim Hart quarterbacked the St. Louis Cardinals to a 7-0 start in 1974, Arizona has won 11 of 13 -- the best mark in the league during that span.
"There's no question chemistry is a big part of it," Whisenhunt said. "We started to develop that last year over that stretch and you could see it in training camp and the offseason. You never know what that's going to mean, but in some tough situations this year you've seen that come out. You've seen some guys believe in each other, work hard and to me that's what a team is all about."
Whisenhunt hopes that belief and his team's collective confidence extends to the prime-time stage. Arizona has won 10 of 11 against the Rams (2-2), and seven straight at the Edward Jones Dome since a 17-10 loss there Sept. 12, 2004.
Arizona took both meetings last season after losing 19-6 at home to the Rams on Dec. 5, 2010.
Though the Cardinals have fared well in St. Louis, the teams' last two games there were decided by a combined seven points. Both of the Rams' victories this season have come at home -- by nine total points.
"They're excited to be able to play," coach Jeff Fisher said after the Rams hung on for a 19-13 win over Seattle on Sunday. "It's prime time and we hope things work out well for us."
The potential of another close contest likely won't faze the Cardinals, who forced one fumble that led to the tying touchdown late in regulation and another in overtime to set up Jay Feely's 46-yard field goal for a 24-21 victory over Miami on Sunday.
"I don't know what it is with us that we have to take it to the last moment of the game, but we're winning and that's all that matters," said third-year receiver Andre Roberts, who caught six passes for 118 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Though the Cardinals rank 29th with 68.0 rushing yards per game, Kevin Kolb has completed 62.6 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald has 17 receptions for 178 yards and two TDs over the last two games after catching five for 67 without a score in the first two.
Defensively, Arizona ranks third in the NFL with 15.2 points allowed per contest and is fourth with 10 turnovers forced, including a league-high six fumble recoveries.
The Rams, who turned the ball over once versus Seattle, have matched their win total from 2011 and can move above .500 after five games for the first time since opening 4-1 in 2006.
With Sam Bradford ranking in the bottom half of the league with an 80.1 passer rating and Steven Jackson rushing for 195 yards and no touchdowns, St. Louis' biggest offensive contributor has been rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein.
The sixth-round pick from Missouri Western State has converted all 12 of his field-goal attempts. He made four Sunday, including a franchise-record 58-yarder that he topped when he connected from 60 yards in the third quarter.
"Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season," said Jackson, who has averaged 61.4 rushing yards and scored one TD in seven home games against the Cardinals. "Pretty much, all we've got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we're in his range."
The Rams rank second in the league with eight interceptions.
Cardinals-Rams: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 5 Cardinals-Rams matchup.
• Lean on Jackson: Running backs are posting paltry numbers against Arizona, but for the first time in a while, Steven Jackson looked healthy. He ran with great conviction and power last week. St. Louis will need to lean on him -- and to a much lesser degree, Daryl Richardson -- in a big way in this matchup. Richardson is an intriguing young back who brings a speed element to the Rams' run game.
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|Avg Points Allowed||15.6||18.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ARI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ARI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Arizona leads 12-10|
|Nov 27, 2011||ARI 23, @STL 20|
|Nov 6, 2011||ARI 19, STL 13|
|Dec 5, 2010||ARI 6, STL 19|
|Sep 12, 2010||ARI 17, @STL 13|
|Dec 27, 2009||ARI 31, STL 10|
|Nov 22, 2009||ARI 21, @STL 13|
|Dec 7, 2008||ARI 34, STL 10|
|Nov 2, 2008||ARI 34, @STL 13|
|Dec 30, 2007||ARI 48, STL 19|
|Oct 7, 2007||ARI 34, @STL 31|
|Dec 3, 2006||ARI 34, @STL 20|
|Sep 24, 2006||ARI 14, STL 16|
|Nov 20, 2005||ARI 38, @STL 28|
|Sep 18, 2005||ARI 12, STL 17|
|Dec 19, 2004||ARI 31, STL 7|
|Sep 12, 2004||ARI 10, @STL 17|
|Nov 23, 2003||ARI 27, STL 30|
|Sep 28, 2003||ARI 13, @STL 37|
|Dec 15, 2002||ARI 28, @STL 30|
|Nov 3, 2002||ARI 14, STL 27|
The Cardinals are 4-0 this season but there is certainly room to go grow, particularly when stopping opponents on 3rd and long. This season, only the Seahawks and Raiders have allowed teams to convert passing 3rd downs of at least 6 yards at a higher percentage. This season opponents have converted nearly 44 percent of those 3rd downs against Arizona.[+]
HIGHEST OPP 3rd-DOWN CONV PCT OF 6 YARDS OR LONGER - PASSING THIS SEASON
Sam Bradford has completed 52.8 percent of his passes more than 10 yards downfield this season. Bradford completed just 34.5 percent of such throws last season.[+]
Sam Bradford Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield - Last 2 Seasons
Larry Fitzgerald has one drop on 187 targets since the start of last season, the fewest among 47 wide receivers with at least 100 targets. The one drop equates to 0.5 percent of his targets, making Fitzgerald the only wide receiver with a drop rate under 1.0 percent.
ESPN Stats & Information