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Friday Five: Cardinals At Rams

A look at the top storylines for Sunday's game


A glance at the top storylines for the Cardinals-Rams game Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum:

**Streaking Palmer goes back to school

Carson Palmer played his college home games for USC at the Coliseum, the place the Rams are calling home until 2018, when their new palace of a stadium opens up. The quarterback said he isn't sure what his emotions will be like for Sunday, but there is little doubt that his play is where the Cardinals want it to be. Palmer has been very good for the last month, despite playing with a patchwork offensive line and a receiving corps that didn't turn out to be what it was supposed to at season's outset. A solid end –especially since the offense struggled mightily against the Rams back in Week 4 – at his old college stomping grounds would be a fitting close to the season.

Misery for Goff, and a secondary less tested?

Rookie quarterback Jared Goff wasn't playing yet when the Cards faced the Rams the first time. Goff has struggled as expected, and the Cards are coming off a game in which they faced a much better quarterback but a similarly poor offensive line. There's no reason Markus Golden, Chandler Jones and company can't cause Goff all kinds of problems. It's necessary – as the Seahawks game went on and Seattle found a way for Russell Wilson to have a modicum of time, everyone saw what was happening with the injury-riddled secondary.

David Johnson's closing act

The greatest season by a running back in Cardinals' history – arguable, yes, but I believe it to be true – is coming to a close. David Johnson has a game left to add to his franchise record 20 touchdowns, his franchise record 2,074 yards from scrimmage, and a slim chance to be a 1,000-yard receiver (he needs 159 yards, so yes, it's hard to see happening). If he gets 100 scrimmage yards, he'll be the only player ever to reach that total all 16 games in a season – and he'll have a shot at Marcus Allen's overall 17-game streak going into 2017. Heck, even if Johnson doesn't score a TD Sunday, he will go into his third NFL season with more touchdowns (33) than games played (32 counting Sunday). That's amazing.

Holding up, again, on the offensive line

So Evan Boehm, drafted as the center of the future, is about to get his first NFL start. As a guard. Boehm did OK at guard last week in Seattle and had been practicing there part of the time this season, but coach Bruce Arians has said Boehm's best position is center and that sums up the way the Cards have had to keep their offensive line together this season. Center A.Q. Shipley has been the anchor, starting all 16 games. Left guard Mike Iupati was close, with 15 starts. But the other positions have been muddled – three left tackles, three right tackles and, once Boehm starts, five right guards. The unit has to hold up one more time -- Aaron Donald awaits.

Saying goodbye to a season unexpected

The season wasn't supposed to be over on January 1. New Year's Day was supposed to be the jumping-off point for the postseason, where the Cardinals would try and take that elusive final step to the Super Bowl. Instead, there is no postseason, just a game in which to close out a disappointing year (Damn you, 2016!) But the Cardinals are coming off a big win in Seattle, and if they can avenge an early-season loss to the Rams, the feelings won't be quite as ugly heading into the offseason. 

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