Cards vs. Rams Preview
St. Louis, MO - While Kurt Warner was a former league MVP and Super Bowl champion with the St. Louis Rams a decade ago, he may also be remembered for his role in helping the Arizona Cardinals reach the sport's pinnacle.
Warner and the Cardinals look to improve to 5-0 on the road for the first time in 61 years Sunday when they try to drop the NFC West rival Rams to 0-5 at home.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made the Cardinals –9.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on the Cardinals –9.5 (View NFL bet percentages).
Once an NFL castoff who played overseas and even supported himself by working in a supermarket, Warner became a star with the Rams in 1999, earning MVP honors and leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl victory. He was named MVP again in 2001, when the Rams fell short of a second championship with a 20-17 Super Bowl loss to New England.
Many figured that would be the final Super Bowl for Warner as he lasted one season with the Giants in 2004 and came to Arizona a year later - one year before the Cardinals drafted Matt Leinart with the intention of building the franchise around the former USC star.
Warner, though, beat out Leinart for the starting job in Ken Whisenhunt's first season as coach in 2008 and guided the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl and a last-minute loss to Pittsburgh.
Warner is showing that the Cardinals weren't a fluke. He has 18 touchdown passes to rank fourth in the league and Arizona (6-3) owns a two-game West lead over San Francisco.
The 38-year-old Warner has been at his best on the road, with a league-leading 72.6 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns and only two of his 11 interceptions. He's 3-0 as a visitor in St. Louis, throwing for an average of 272.7 yards with six touchdowns and one interception.
Warner became the 29th player in NFL history to throw 200 touchdown passes last Sunday, as he finished with 340 yards passing and two scores to help Arizona rally from an early 14-0 deficit to defeat Seattle 31-20.
"Parts of the first half seemed so difficult for us to do anything," Warner said, "then we came back in the second half and sometimes it seemed almost easy."
The Cardinals have gotten strong work on the ground from rookie Beanie Wells, who rushed for 75 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns in the second half last week. Wells has averaged 67.8 yards in his last four games, but Whisenhunt has decided not to make him the starter yet.
"That's an issue that when it comes, it comes," Whisenhunt said. "I think that we have always said and have been consistent that when we feel like it's time to make a change with those things we will do it if that's deserved. We're not going to make Beanie the starter just to make Beanie the starter."
St. Louis (1-8) features the fifth-worst defense in the league, and the Rams are facing a high-powered offense for the second straight week. They fell 28-23 to unbeaten New Orleans last Sunday, allowing 420 yards and seeing a potential game-winning drive stall in the last minute.
It was the Rams' first game since their bye and coach Steve Spagnuolo's first win, 17-10 at Detroit on Nov. 1. Spagnuolo is seeing improvement from his club.
"We won the total yardage battle (434-420) and we won the turnover battle (3-1)," he said about Sunday's loss. "Those are two key things in trying to win a football game. There are some other areas we needed to do better at that might have changed the outcome but we didn't."
One of the positives for his club is running back Stephen Jackson, who has gone over 130 yards for three straight games. He is third in the league with 915 yards and has scored in consecutive games after going the first seven without reaching the end zone.
The Rams are trying to end a 10-game division losing streak, and Arizona represents the fourth straight unbeaten road team to visit St. Louis.
"Hey, all of them we play ... will be a tough battle," Spagnuolo said. "It'll be another big challenge."
The Cardinals franchise hasn't opened with five straight road wins since it won all seven of its away games while based in Chicago in 1948.
Posted: 11/18/09 3:41PM ET