Arizona will roll the dice this week with rookie Ryan Lindley at quarterback, a decision that may just about finish off their playoff hopes if it backfires.
Not that they have a lot of choice in the matter with Kevin Kolb still recovering and John Skelton looking lost behind an offensive line that has given up a league-leading 44 sacks.
Jeff Fisher and the Rams will be looking to forget last week’s game against the low-flying Jets and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fisher pull out a few more trick plays from his book.
So, who can we trust this week?
Bad offensive line, rookie quarterback, and a struggling Larry Fitzgerald make Ryan Lindley a start for only the most desperate of owners. He might finish with his first NFL touchdown pass if the Rams focus on stopping Arizona’s running game, but we can definitely expect a turnover or two as well.
There is a good chance Sam Bradford will be without wide receiver Danny Amendola again for this game and Arizona comes into the game ranked fourth overall against the pass.
Bradford is not a recommended start this week even though he has been more efficient lately. He has the chance of putting up 200 yards with two touchdowns and and at least one interception.
LaRod Stephens-Howling will get the start this week even as Beanie Wells returns from injury. While he may not see another 100-yard game like last week with Wells hanging around, he has proven himself to be a worthy start and likely to pick up 80 yards and a touchdown this week.
From all indications, Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt will ease Beanie Wells back into action, which makes Wells a Flex start at best with the possibility of picking up about 60 yards this week.
Steven Jackson is dealing with a foot injury but is listed as probable. If he can get going early on we can expect at least an 80-yard game from the veteran with a touchdown to boot. Daryl Richardson has been used sparingly of late despite showing some flashes of brilliance in his rookie campaign. If Jackson is ruled out, Richardson will be a solid start, but otherwise he should remain on your bench.
Danny Amendola was unable to practice this week and is listed as doubtful. With the game slated to kick off at 4:25 pm on Sunday you might want to look for a safer bet, or at least have a solid backup plan. If Amendola does sit this one out, expect Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens to pick up the slack.
It’s hard to trust any of Arizona’s receivers this week with Lindley tossing the ball, even Larry Fitzgerald. Of course if you invested a high draft pick on Fitzgerald, there is no way you are sitting him and of all the Cardinals’ receivers he has the best chance of scoring any points for your team. If you go into the game not expecting too much, you should be happy when you get 60 yards and a touchdown from him.
Despite seeing a little more consistency in the last few games before being ignored completely last week, Rob Housler is yet to have a big game this year and is unlikely to now with Lindley under center. Don’t look for any help here.
Even if he weren’t officially questionable with a knee injury, Lance Kendricks would have a tough matchup this week against an Arizona defense allowing an average of only 37.5 yards per game to tight ends. Though Kendricks did find the end zone last time these two teams met, that score remains his only touchdown on the year. Not a good week to risk playing him.
Defense and Special Teams
Defenses for both teams will probably produce most of the highlights for this game and with the fourth-best pass defense in the NFL, the Cardinals should remain a good play after picking off Matt Ryan five times last week. They may find the going a little tough to sustain, though, if Lindley struggles and they are forced to be on the field longer.
The Rams' defense should be a great start this week. Looking to break an NFL record-tying turnover drought, expect to see plenty of sacks and at least one interception or forced fumble collected on the day from this unit as they face one of the league's worst offensive lines and a rookie quarterback in what should be a tough divisional matchup.