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Friday Five: Cardinals At Rams


A glance at the top storylines for the Cardinals-Rams game Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis:

**Cardinals on the block

Bruce Arians wasn't happy with the blocking last week in San Francisco. He had issues with the offensive linemen. He had issues with the tight ends. The wide receivers didn't hold up their end enough either. It didn't make things very easy against the 49ers, and the Rams have a much better defense. Holding up with the blocks – both in the run game and the pass game – seems so basic. But against a team with a limited offense, it could mean the difference between a win or loss.

One Johnson down, another Johnson plays

Chris Johnson is out until the Super Bowl, if there is a Super Bowl for the Cardinals. The only way to get there is if rookie David Johnson provides play at running back that he has already flashed. The Rams are sure to go after the ball since DJ now has a reputation of putting it on the ground. But he can control that. His biggest issue may be blitz pickup and hot routes. Johnson knows how to run the ball, and the Cardinals need him to do it now.

'Tis the season not to give

The Cardinals' two-point loss to the Rams earlier this season was punctuated by a big, fat minus-3: Three turnovers for the Cardinals, none by the Rams. St. Louis has trouble scoring points, so giving away the ball to a short field kills. So too does giving up scoring opportunities. The Cards even gift-wrapped momentum in that game when David Johnson fumbled away the opening kickoff. Taking care of the ball is paramount.

Ganging Up On Gurley

For 2½ quarters earlier this season, Todd Gurley did nothing against the Cardinals. He had negative yards at that point, in fact. Then he exploded for more than 140 yards, and was a huge reason why the Rams pulled off the upset. Arians was clear that he felt like it was a Cardinals' problem only, that if his defenders play the gaps for which they are assigned Gurley wouldn't have been nearly as effective. That will be the focus this time around.

Split priorities

The Cardinals have a chance to sweep their division rivals on the road this season, something that hasn't happened since 2008. More importantly, the Cardinals would like to pay the Rams back for that 24-22 loss – their first loss this season. The chance to Arians to finally get above .500 within the division (the Cards would be 4-1 with the home game against the Seahawks left) is something to remember too.

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