Based on their recent history against the St. Louis Rams, it appears the Arizona Cardinals have a good chance to continue the team's best start in 38 years.
The Cardinals look to remain undefeated when they try for an eighth consecutive road win over the improved St. Louis Rams on Thursday night.
With three victories by four or fewer points, Arizona (4-0) joins Houston and Atlanta as the NFL's lone unbeaten teams.
"We are a good team," said Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose club's eight wins in 2011 all came by seven or fewer points — four in overtime. "We play well together and our guys make plays."
Off to its best start since Jim Hart quarterbacked the St. Louis Cardinals to a 7-0 start in 1974, Arizona has won 11 of 13 — the best mark in the league during that span.
"There's no question chemistry is a big part of it," Whisenhunt said. "We started to develop that last year over that stretch and you could see it in training camp and the off-season.
"You never know what that's going to mean, but in some tough situations this year you've seen that come out. You've seen some guys believe in each other, work hard and, to me, that's what a team is all about."
Whisenhunt hopes that belief and his team's collective confidence extends to the prime-time stage. Arizona has won 10 of 11 against the Rams (2-2) and seven straight at the Edward Jones Dome since a 17-10 loss there Sept. 12, 2004.
Arizona took both meetings last season after losing 19-6 at home to the Rams on Dec. 5, 2010.
'It's prime time'
Though the Cardinals have fared well in St. Louis, the teams' last two games there were decided by a combined seven points. Both of the Rams' victories this season have come at home — by nine total points.
"They're excited to be able to play," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after St. Louis hung on for a 19-13 win over Seattle on Sunday. "It's prime time and we hope things work out well for us."
The potential of another close contest likely won't faze the Cardinals, who forced one fumble that led to the tying touchdown late in regulation and another in overtime to set up Jay Feely's 46-yard field goal for a 24-21 victory over Miami on Sunday.
"I don't know what it is with us that we have to take it to the last moment of the game, but we're winning and that's all that matters," said Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts, who caught six passes for 118 yards and two fourth-quarter TDs.
Though the Cardinals rank 29th with 68.0 rushing yards per game, Kevin Kolb has completed 62.6 per cent of his passes while throwing seven TDs and two interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald has 17 receptions for 178 yards and two TDs over the last two games after catching five for 67 without a score in the first two.
Defensively, Arizona ranks third in the NFL with 15.2 points allowed per contest and is fourth with 10 turnovers forced, including a league-high six fumble recoveries.
'Our kicker is the MVP'
The Rams, who turned the ball over once versus Seattle, have matched their win total from 2011 and can move above .500 after five games for the first time since opening 4-1 in 2006.
With Sam Bradford ranking in the bottom half of the league with an 80.1 passer rating and Steven Jackson rushing for 195 yards and no touchdowns, St. Louis' biggest offensive contributor has been rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein.
The sixth-round pick from Missouri Western State has converted all 12 of his field-goal attempts. He made four Sunday, including a franchise-record 58-yarder that he topped when he connected from 60 yards in the third quarter.
"Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season," said Jackson, who has averaged 61.4 rushing yards and scored one TD in seven home games against the Cardinals. "Pretty much, all we've got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we're in his range."
St. Louis' only touchdown against the Seahawks also came via special teams, as undrafted rookie punter and holder Johnny Hekker hit Danny Amendola with a two-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal.
The Rams rank second in the league with eight interceptions.