Behind Enemy Lines: Cardinals vs. Rams

Our experts, Amberly Richardson of and Howard Balzer of, analyze Sunday's game between the Cardinals and Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Amberly Richardson: If the Rams lose in Arizona, they will fall to 3-13. How big of a role did injuries play this season?

Howard Balzer: Injuries were a huge factor, especially on the offensive line. The Rams have started 13 different players on the line, including three released this year by the Cardinals (Brandon Gorin, Nick Leckey, Milford Brown).

The Rams have had five different starters at right guard and right tackle, four at left guard and two each at left tackle and center. Add that to starting three quarterbacks, and running back Steven Jackson missing four games and a large part of another, and you have an offense that was unable to achieve continuity.

On defense, end Leonard Little has missed most of the season. In the secondary, the Rams are 3-3 when their starters have been available (cornerbacks Tye Hill and Fakhir Brown and safeties Corey Chavous and Oshiomogho Atogwe). In games where at least one was missing, the Rams are 0-9.

AR: How do you expect Scott Linehan to switch up the rotation on Sunday, if at all? What young players will get a chance to play out the season?

HB: The lineup will remain mostly the same, although undrafted rookie linebacker Quinton Culberson could start because Brandon Chillar has a calf injury. Rookie third-round pick Jonathan Wade is seeing time in the nickel defense with Hill out with a wrist injury.

AR: How has the sideline drama impacted the Rams on the field this season? Is the tiff between Torry Holt and Linehan over?

HB: No one is really talking about the Holt incident. That, and other incidents, have been born out of the overall frustration with offensive inconsistency.

AR: The Rams have not played since Dec. 20 when they were defeated for the fourth consecutive time. Will their break be a factor on Sunday?

HB: It might. The Rams played their best game of the season on Nov. 11 after their bye, defeating New Orleans.

AR: The only ground game that Arizona posesses is in Edgerrin James, who has been less than phenomenal (less than 90 yards in the past three games). How do the Rams match up against the pass?

HB: They were hit for big plays against the Steelers, but for the most part, the pass defense has been solid.

The question in this game is how they will match up with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin when the Cardinals play three receivers. Starting cornerback Ron Bartell moves to the slot in the nickel, so the rookie Wade will be on the edge against either Fitzgerald or Boldin.

Kurt Warner is on a one-game high after passing for 369 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

AR: How would you summarize Marc Bulger's play this season? How do you see the Rams' quarterback situation next year?

HB: Like the offense -- inconsistent. Bulger had a big game in Week 2 against San Francisco, but that's when he suffered broken ribs because of six sacks and seven hits. He has been better in recent weeks after returning from a concussion, part of the reason being the makeshift line has at least been playing together for a few weeks.

Bulger signed a $65 million contract before the season, so he is entrenched as the starter. He is the type of quarterback that needs to have protection to be effective.

AR: Arizona is playing for a .500 record. What are the Rams playing for?

Pride and trying to avoid having the worst record since the team moved to St. Louis (4-12 in 1998). Many fans would like to see them lose so they can get the second pick in the draft, but the veterans on this roster have helped the team stay as together as possible under trying circumstances.

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