The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams both head into their second of two divisional matchups Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium coming off tough losses.
For the Cardinals, three turnovers, five sacks and two defense lapses to end the second quarter and to start the third quarter did them in, as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21.
For the Rams, their 23-13 at San Francisco was never really as close as the score would indicate. Outside of a late fourth quarter touchdown, it was all 49ers. Jeff Fisher's squad allowed Colin Kaepernick to throw for 275 yards and Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis to combine for 180 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Offensively, Kellen Clemens was sacked three times, threw one pick and completed just a shade over 50 percent of his passes.
It wasn't pretty.
As mentioned above, the two teams are already familiar with one another having played back in St. Louis to open the 2013 season.
In that contest, Arizona built a 24-16 lead going into the fourth quarter, but gave up 11 unanswered points, including a game-winning field goal by Greg Zuerlien with 40 seconds to play.
Arizona is winless (0-3) in the division heading into Sunday's contest and hasn't beaten an NFC West opponent since Week 1 of the 2012 season.
Leading up to the game, we'll keep you updated on everything that's going on Behind Enemy Lines in St. Louis.
Sunday, December 8
Matchup breakdown: Rams-Cardinals (ESPN.com)
Breaking down Rams defensive end Robert Quinn vs. Cardinals left tackle Bradley Sowell, Rams tight end Jared Cook vs. Cardinals safeties and linebackers, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson vs. Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd.
Rams' Cook not happy with season (FoxSports.com)
Tight end Jared Cook is on pace to establish career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns. Nonetheless, the prevailing opinion is that Cook has had a disappointing first season with the Rams after signing a five-year, $35.1 million free-agent deal last March.
Big catch continues to elude Rams' Givens (STLToday.com)
Had he taken a step or two backward, Chris Givens could've caught the pass flat-footed. Instead, he leaped awkwardly, and landed more awkwardly, with the ball falling to the ground incomplete. A year ago as a rookie, he attracted notice by catching a pass of 50 yards-plus in five consecutive games.
Patience is Paying Off for Stedman Bailey (StLouisRams.com)
As a third-round draft pick who was one of the most productive collegiate players at his position in 2012, Stedman Bailey's talent on the field is clear to see. In his rookie season in St. Louis, however, the patience he's shown as he's witnessed his role gradually expand has been perhaps his best attribute.
Keys to the Game: Arizona (StLouisRams.com)
The Rams travel to Arizona this week for their second consecutive road game within the NFC West. The Cardinals (7-5) are in search of their first NFC West victory of the season. Click the headline to see three keys to observe during Sunday's game.
Saturday, December 7
• Morning Ram-blings: Getting the drop (ESPN.com)
The Rams have dropped an NFL-most 7.6 percent of their targets in 2013, tying them with the Detroit Lions. Their 30 drops for the year, meanwhile, are second only to the Lions' 37.
Perhaps that helps to explain part of Kellen Clemens' low 51.7 completion percentage.
• Jake Long ready to play Sunday (STLToday.com)
Listed as 'probable' for Sunday's game against the Cardinals, Rams' left tackle Jake Long told reporters he's "feeling really good" after suffering a concussion in last weekend's loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
• Three things: Rams-Cardinals (ESPN.com)
Stopping the run, applying pass pressure and avoiding penalties are the three premier keys to the Rams' efforts against the Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, according to ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner.
Thursday, December 5
• Rams face another top-10 NFL defense (STLToday.com)
In 2010, the NFC West was the worst in the NFL. The Rams and Seahawks tied atop the division at 7-9, with Seattle moving on due to a better division record. The 49ers finished 6-10 while the Arizona Cardinals ended up 5-11.
Three years later, the NFC West is the toughest and best division in football.
• Rams' Jake Long makes progress (ESPN.com)
The St. Louis Rams got a little break from head coach Jeff Fisher when he gave them a "sleep in" Thursday, pushing back all meetings and practice for the day.
That meant a late afternoon practice ending early Thursday evening. Apparently, the later start time also was helpful in allowing some of the Rams recovering from injury to make positive progress.
• Morning Ram-blings: The other center (ESPN.com)
In Thursday's coverage, we took an in-depth look at Rams center Tim Barnes as he prepares to take over for injured starter Scott Wells this week and likely over the final four weeks.
• St. Louis Rams: An improved return game? (Turf Show Times)
In 2012, the St. Louis Rams were one of the league's worst teams in regards to starting field position. Have they shown improvement in 2013?
• Rams, Cardinals part of NFC West resurgence (StLouisRams.com)
By nearly any measure, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Calais Campbell and his teammates are in the midst of their best season since winning the division four years ago.
At 7-5, the Cardinals are in position to make a postseason push, though are seeing that success in this division may come more difficult than anywhere else.
Wednesday, December 4
• Dome owners hoping Rams stay (AP)
The owners of the Edward Jones Dome remain hopeful the St. Louis Rams won't leave after city leaders rejected $700 million in upgrades sought by the team.
The Rams can break their lease after next season but have said little about their plans.
• What happened to Chris Givens? (Turf Show Times)
Givens burst onto the scene as a rookie last year. He led the Rams with 698 receiving yards, and emerged as more than just a deep threat when pressed into service for the injured Danny Amendola.
• Rams-Niners study session: Defense (ESPN.com)
A look back at the St. Louis Rams' 23-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers after reviewing the All-22 film.
Instead of breaking down a big play and a hidden play this week, we'll just dive right into observations and general thoughts from the game.
• Rams-Niners study session: Offense (ESPN.com)
Overall it was obviously a tough day for the Rams offense. The Niners defense is clearly far ahead of the group that they had in the teams' first meeting in September. Aldon Smith bending the edge and Patrick Willis' presence in the middle has that group playing like an elite one once again. The Rams missed a number of opportunities to hit some big plays, though.
• One slip wrecked Rams' trick play (STLToday.com)
The design was sound. The execution wasn't. In a Rams season of several near misses, add Sunday's botched fake punt in San Francisco to the list.
Tuesday, December 3
• Rams have nothing up their sleeves (STLToday.com)
Like one of those fake cigars, a fake punt blew up in Jeff Fisher's face. And the Rams' head coach was more than willing to take the blame after Sunday's 23-13 loss to San Francisco.
After the game, he told his players: "I'll take this one."
• Rams center Wells probably out for season with broken leg (STLToday.com)
"Scott's going to be down for four to six (weeks),'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during his Monday news conference at Rams Park. "We're still evaluating. ... It's very similar to (safety T.J. McDonald's injury), non-displaced, so we're kind of evaluating what we're going to do with the roster.''
• Rams frustrated but not embarrassed (STLToday.com)
"Completely frustrating," Dunbar said. "We didn't come up with big plays on defense. In that type of game, defenses win that game. We played really good against the run, but we've got to do some things outside and we've got to make some big plays."
• Ten takeaways from Sunday's 23-13 loss to San Francisco (101Sports.com)
This was a game where the 49ers imposed their will, and the Rams didn't really have an answer. The Rams received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out.
• Davis: Rams safety 'wouldn't let go' (ESPN.com)
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis claims that St. Louis Rams safety T.J. McDonald went below the belt to make a tackle Sunday and wouldn't let go.
"I'm still thinking about it. I can feel it," Davis said after the 49ers' 23-13 victory, according to the team's website. "It was a crossing route. I made the play, and as soon as I got my hands on the ball, [McDonald] was grabbing me right there in that space, that area, and I kept telling him, 'Let go, get off me, get off me,' and he wouldn't let me go."
Monday, December 2
Rapid Reaction: St. Louis Rams (ESPN.com)
The Rams sit at 5-7 on the season, any flicker of playoff hope they had has essentially vanished in the competitive NFC. They're a full three games behind San Francisco for the No. 6 spot in the conference and still trail a handful of other teams just to get into the mix.
Any reasonable person wouldn't have expected the Rams to win their final six games to get into the playoff hunt, but at least now those dreams can be put to bed.
Ram Bytes: Awful secondary must be fixed (STLToday.com)
Looking ahead to next season: This year isn't over, but that's beside the point. I'm always looking at the current roster for weak areas that must be addressed when the Rams get into the offseason.
The team's most obvious need is cornerback. The Rams have simply been awful in the secondary in 2013. They've allowed a 67.2 percent completion rate, which ranks 31st among the 32 teams.
Strauss: Niners return Rams to reality (STLToday.com)
Sunday afternoon at The 'Stick the Rams were who we thought they were. This wasn't the team that hung 38 on Indianapolis or whipped Chicago by three touchdowns. This wasn't the secondary that smothered Seattle in a five-point loss before Halloween.
Nope. Instead, the Rams looked like a team employing a backup quarterback as its starter and exposing a smallish, young, makeshift secondary against a veteran, extremely athletic group of receivers.
Breakfast with Bernie: Rams lack discipline (STLToday.com)
On his latest episode, Bernie Miklasz discusses the bad judgment and stupid penalties that seem to sting the Rams each week. Is Jeff Fisher to blame?
Morning Ram-blings: Jeff Fisher's regret (ESPN.com)
When St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher addressed his team after its 23-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, he pointed the finger at himself in large part because of a failed fake punt that allowed the game to get away early in the fourth quarter.
Rams have a long road to the top of the division (ESPN.com)
The view from the bottom of the NFC West Division is nothing new to the St. Louis Rams.
Looking up at some combination of Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco has become a fall tradition in St. Louis, a tradition being upheld by the 2013 edition of the team. After Sunday's 23-13 loss to the Niners, St. Louis now sits two games behind the Cardinals just to get out of the basement, let alone the six-loss differential with the first-place Seahawks.