Rams at Cardinals

Cards stressing importance of division victory

2013-12-07T16:53:00Z 2013-12-07T19:12:03Z Cards stressing importance of division victoryThe Associated Press The Associated Press
December 07, 2013 4:53 pm  • 

GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals have carved out a respectable record in Bruce Arians’ first season as coach.

Wins in the NFC West, though, remain elusive.

The Cardinals (7-5) enter today’s game against St. Louis (5-7) on an eight-game losing streak against teams in their division. They haven’t beaten an NFC West opponent since a victory over Seattle in the 2012 season opener and are 0-3 this year.

“It’s been a point of emphasis,” Arizona’s seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

After last Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia, Arizona has an uphill fight to the postseason.

“We can’t worry about the playoffs,” Arians said. “They’ll take care of themselves. For us, we have to win in the division. We have three out of four left in the division, and we have to make a statement we can play in the division.”

The Rams are 1-3 against NFC West opponents, the only victory coming against the Cardinals 27-24 in their season opener, a game Arizona led by 11 entering the fourth quarter.

St. Louis has won three straight over Arizona.

Here are three things to watch today:

Home advantage: The Cardinals have been much more effective at home, going 5-1 with the only loss coming against Seattle.

Three of the wins came against teams that currently have a winning record: Detroit, Carolina and Indianapolis. In Arizona’s most recent home game two weeks ago, the Cardinals routed the Colts 40-11.

Rams’ pressure: Arizona’s offensive line has struggled at times protecting Carson Palmer, who needs to throw out of a clean pocket to be at his best.

In the season opener, Robert Quinn had three sacks, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hits.

“Nobody wants to see him — tackles, quarterbacks. He’s got probably 15 sacks (actually 13), it seems like,” Palmer said.

Quinn is second in the NFL in sacks and leads the league with four forced fumbles.

Cardinals’ health: Two of Arizona’s big-play threats, wide receiver Michael Floyd and running back Andre Ellington, are struggling with injuries.

Already bothered by a sore shoulder, Floyd injured an ankle against the Eagles. In the last three games, Floyd has 18 catches for 396 yards. In his last four games, all 20 of his receptions have gone for first downs.

Ellington, a rookie from Clemson, injured his left knee in practice 10 days ago and didn’t play in Philadelphia. His absence removed one of Arizona’s major big-play threats.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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