Even as the Arizona Cardinals are presented an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth, they have plenty to be concerned about.
Injuries, for one. No contender's lineup has been more damaged than Arizona's, with the latest being the sidelining of top running back Andre Ellington. It's somewhat astonishing that they not only lead the NFC West, but could grab a wild-card spot with a victory at St. Louis on Thursday night.
Much easier said than done. The Rams come off consecutive shutouts _ yes, they were against Oakland and Washington, and we're not exactly talking the John Madden Raiders or Joe Gibbs Redskins. Still, St. Louis is not a team anyone wants any part of right now.
Particularly the defense.
"They've always been as good a front four as anybody in the league and you're watching them jell and become an outstanding defense," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says. "(Safety) Mark Barron was a great addition. They've stayed healthy, that's a big thing."
Preparation is at a premium for a short week, but neither is a fancy team with a lot of tricks. Most important is keeping your own house in order, according to Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
"I'm fine with a Thursday night game. It's just getting to Thursday night, which is the challenge as coaches," he says. "In essence what you do is you pick up an extra bye week. This one is as late as it's been for me in the season, almost mid-December."
Despite their records, the Rams are 3 1-2-point favorites over the Cardinals (10-3.