NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals v St Louis Rams live on Sky Sports HD1
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 04/10/12 6:24pm
Arizona Cardinals: Unbeaten at 4-0 in the NFL this season
The Arizona Cardinals put their unbeaten record on the line against NFC West rivals St Louis Rams on Thursday in the live Sky Sports NFL game.
Arizona are one of the three teams still unbeaten in the NFL, with their 4-0 record the best start the team has made since 1972, when the Cardinals were ironically still based in St Louis.
Despite some uninspiring quarterback play, the Cards have been on a roll since the end of last season, mainly behind a stingy defence that is looking like one of the best in the league this year.
Ken Whisenhunt's men can make it eight road wins on the spin on Thursday night, and they must fancy their chances going up against a divisional rival they have beaten in 10 of the last 11 games and in seven straight at the Edward Jones Dome.
A close game looks on the cards with Arizona winning three of their four this season by four points or less while the last two meetings between the teams in St Louis have been decided by just seven points in total.
Kevin Kolb is starting to look like the quarterback Arizona paid out for, after leading them to a tense win over Miami last week, but it is their third-ranked defence that has done the damage - allowing just 15.2 points a game and leading the league with six fumble recoveries.
For the Rams, Sam Bradford has not been at his best but they did manage to battle to victory over a tough Seattle team last week, and both of their victories have come at home where they have yet to lose.
Stalwart running back Steven Jackson is set to start despite struggling with a groin injury, but he has not had his usual impact this season and the Rams might need to rely on kicker Greg Zuerlein and special teams if they are to spring the upset.
Rookie punter Johnny Hekker threw the Rams' only TD pass last week on a fake field goal, while fellow rookie Zuerlein has a huge leg and nailed a 58 and 60-yarder last week and is a perfect 12-from-12 on the season.
"Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season," said Jackson. "Pretty much, all we've got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we're in his range."
The Rams are looking a lot better under Jeff Fisher and finally seem to be heading in the right direction - on defence they have a league-high eight interceptions but Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins will have their hands full with Larry Fitzgerald.
It would make a big statement if the new rams can upset the unbeaten Cards, but Whisenhunt says that after so many close contests his side has built up a strong team bond.
"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 off-season.
"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."