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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
    MauiRam is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    "Your Choice" .. Nookiewits picks Cards, but Truly Druley likes Rams

    Your choice
    Cards get edge in NFC West


    By Joshua Niziolkiewicz


    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    “They are who we thought they were!”
    These words echoed by then-Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green – though funny and animated in response to his loss – were pretty much true when it came to the Bears’ come-from-behind victory against what ESPN announcers referred to as “Matt Leinart and the Cardinals.”

    I caught that nail-biter on Insight’s NFL On-Demand channel under the “Free Spot” this week, reliving old memories and feeding the football fix until beautiful September arrives.

    One thing was definitely clear after watching the game for the second time: Dennis Green had the team to beat the Bears, although he didn’t have the strategy.

    It was more of a matter of the Cardinals outplaying the Bears, rather than them capitalizing on a few mistakes which allowed them to remain competitive throughout the game. (Although many would love to place the horrible first-half play solely on the shoulders of Bears QB Rex Grossman).

    With a little pressure, Green became over-excited and tried to force too many plays.

    Green was like Illini coach Ron Zook for the Cardinals – he recruited well, but he couldn’t coach his talent.

    This year the talent is still there, but the Green factor is out of the way. The Cardinals are now ready to make a run for the division title and finish on top of the St. Louis Rams, San Francisco ***** and Seattle Seahawks.

    The schedules – overall – don’t hold any advantages for either the Rams or the Cardinals … unless you factor in momentum.

    Even though the Cardinals play their first game away at San Fran, this should be a pretty easy obstacle to overcome. In Week 2, they come back home to play Seattle – another promising test for the up-and-coming team.

    Week 3 will be the doozy, an away game at Baltimore against the Ravens.

    So, by the fifth week, I see them at 4-1 after picking up their fourth game against a Pittsburgh Steelers team struggling to rediscover its identity, and following with an away win against the Rams.

    For the Rams, I’m looking for them to drop the first game against Carolina, while coming back the second week to beat the *****.

    Here’s where it gets tricky for the Rams – in Week 3, they travel to Tampa Bay to face a hard-fighting Buccaneers team, only to travel to Dallas the next week to take on Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

    When they play the Cardinals in Week 5, they will be pretty beaten up.

    At the opposite end of the schedule, both teams face evenly weak opponents, while matching up one more time for what could be the NFC West’s top spot.

    And with the schedule in place for the Cardinals, so are the tools.

    New coach Ken Whisenhunt going with a two-back system, something that is both comfortable to – and beneficial for – running back Edgerrin James.

    If Leinart can find his rhythm early, he has receivers in Larry Fitzgerald (13.7 yards per catch last year) and Bryant Johnson (18.5). Tight end Leonard Page (10.1) can also be an offensive weapon when the receivers are in tight coverage.

    The defense is nothing to scoff at either. It was the defensive line that gave the Bears so many problems in Week 5 of last year, forcing Grossman into some hurried passes.

    The most exciting individual defensively, however, is Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson. Wilson was the only player to have five sacks, along with four interceptions. He had 82 tackles for the season, along with two fumble recoveries.

    Without taking anything away from the Rams – who I believe will have a winning season – the Cardinals will have that edge to earn them the NFC West title.


    Joshua Niziolkiewicz is the sports editor at The Courier. Contact him at 732-2101 ext. 337, or by e-mail at josh.niziolkiewicz@lincolncourier.com.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bulger, Rams will reign

    By Kevin Druley

    Make the bad men stop.

    At some point during seemingly every single St. Louis Rams telecast over the past four seasons, the broadcasting crew has told the same tired joke:

    “You know, Bob, Marc Bulger looks more like he could be my accountant than my quarterback.”

    If Bulger could hear the silliness, I’m sure he’d be just as irked.

    It’s time to find a new storyline with this guy. No more “Wiry quarterback makes good.”

    How about “Wiry quarterback makes great”? How about Bulger leading the Rams to the NFC West division championship, perhaps beyond?

    Bulger signed a lucrative contract extension – six years, $65 million – last week, making him the highest-paid player in franchise history.

    He’s coming off the best season of his young NFL career, including 4,301 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and a 62.9 completion percentage.

    The Rams can count on his production. Ditto for running back Stephen Jackson and wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

    Offense hasn’t been a problem for the Male Sheep in the last 10 years. Heck, they went 8-8 last season on Bulger’s right arm alone.

    So why be so upbeat about a team that was so mediocre so recently?

    These are the St. Louis Rams.

    I’ve viewed them as infallible ever since the Super Bowl championship season of 1999. The Rams are about the only team for which I still passionately root. The objectivity involved with writing about sports has taken over my other past affinities.

    That aside, the Rams have legitimate talent.

    Even as an 8-8 team a year ago, they nearly beat defending division champion Seattle twice, losing 30-28 and 24-22. That’s four points from a playoff berth. For a team with a rebuilding defense.

    The Rams should be better on that side of the ball this year, if only because they couldn’t be much worse. Only four teams allowed more points than St. Louis in 2006.

    First-round draft pick Adam Carriker is projected as the next Grant Wistrom – a speedy, high-energy defensive lineman. The team plans to switch him from end to tackle.

    Leonard Little and James Hall will be the team’s ends. Both are of Pro-Bowl caliber. Their skills should fluster opposing quarterbacks and delight an opportunistic secondary. Remember, for all its troubles last year, St. Louis was seventh in the NFL in takeaways with 32.

    The Rams went 2-4 in the West last season. Improving upon that should be easy. Seattle’s core of offensive players get more spent with every passing year. San Francisco has developing stars, but is still lame duck. As for Arizona, weren’t they supposed to be the darling two years ago?

    It’s there for the taking.

    Paid and poised, Bulger the accountant will be the thief.


    Kevin Druley is a sports reporter for The Courier. Contact him at 732-2101, ext. 338, or by e-mail at Kevin.Druley@lincolncourier.com.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


  2. #2
    bruce4life's Avatar
    bruce4life is offline Registered User
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    Re: "Your Choice" .. Nookiewits picks Cards, but Truly Druley likes Rams

    where do these reporters report for... what city???/

  3. #3
    MauiRam's Avatar
    MauiRam is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: "Your Choice" .. Nookiewits picks Cards, but Truly Druley likes Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce4life View Post
    where do these reporters report for... what city???/

    http://www.lincolncourier.com/story....D=13571&SEC=10

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