The first time the St. Louis Rams faced the Arizona Cardinals, during Week 5's Thursday Night Football excursion to the Edward Jones Dome, it was the new Rams' national debut, and both teams had a lot to lose. The Cardinals were undefeated, riding the hot hand of Kevin Kolb; the Rams were 2-2, with the chance to go over .500 for the first time since it wasn't such a surprise to see them in primetime. That day the Rams won, with Sam Bradford and Jeff Fisher's new defense each impressing fans diehard enough to have the NFL Network. This Sunday--well, things are different for both teams.
The Rams haven't won since, losing four and tying a winnable game against the first-place San Francisco 49ers. The stifling defense that held the Gridbirds to three points hasn't forced a turnover in weeks, and Bradford found himself outplayed by Mark Sanchez last Sunday. The Cardinals haven't won since, either, dropping six in a row after their undefeated start, and they've ended their quarterback controversy by picking their third-stringer, sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley, over Kolb and John Skelton alike.
Their last meeting was the moment national NFL fans realized they had to respect the whole NFC West. This meeting, if anybody sees it, might be the moment national NFL fans go back to disrespecting the back half.