It was hard to tell in the Arizona game whether Bulger's injured finger was well enough for him to be playing. The wound is on the index finger, the most important digit a passer has for the science of correctly directing a football. And next season, in order to make another Super Bowl run, the Rams are going to need, first of all, a completely healed index finger on Bulger's passing hand.
If the bothersome ligament is re-injured, it could permanently affect him.
Two Passers Hurting
Recent games also have provoked some doubts about Ram physical-fitness supervision in general. At 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, Bulger doesn't appear to have the upper-body strength an NFL quarterback needs.
That's a problem easily fixed by physical-training experts.
From this distance, it seems clear that both Ram quarterbacks, Bulger and Kurt Warner, need some expert physical-training advice.
It isn't true that Warner's lack of mobility in the pocket is inbred and changeless. Of the two kinds of strength that physical experts talk about -- overall strength and explosive strength -- it's the latter that Warner must have, to get quicker into the pocket as well faster out of the pocket on scrambles. And the experts can improve any man's explosive strength.
By heeding the advice of talk-radio and national-TV talkers, the Rams have, temporarily at least, reduced the efficiency of running back Marshall Faulk. In no sense is Faulk a first-down runner against an eight-man front. The talkers have all been wrong about that.
They have all mistakenly attributed last winter's Ram defeat in the Super Bowl to Coach Mike Martz's failure to run Faulk. And, getting louder and louder, they've kept urging Martz to run him more often this year.
The result is that the Ram offense has not only slowed down but has also basically lost Faulk to his injuries.
A year hence, the Rams can only regain Super Bowl form with the strategy Martz used to reach two of the last three NFL championship games. This year, his critics seem to have forced Martz away from that strategy, which has two principal parts:
* Send the passer out to throw the ball on nearly every down.
* Use Faulk as a once-in-a-while counterpuncher, varying the Ram passing game with the draw plays and the other occasional plays that have made Faulk a terror in St. Louis after an ordinary career in Indianapolis.
New England to beat the New York Jets by a touchdown on the Patriots' new field at Foxboro. There is some danger that the Patriots are looking past the Jets to the really big one next week, Miami. But Bill Belichick is a coach who rarely lets such a thing happen.
Oakland to win by a point or two over Denver on the Raiders' field. But it's never a surprise when the Broncos take out the Raiders.
Green Bay by a touchdown over Buffalo in a classic Lambeau Field confrontation of cold-weather teams, only one of which, Buffalo, ever loses on winter days (sometimes).
Kansas City over San Diego by a field goal at Arrowhead Stadium. This is LaDainian Tomlinson's last chance this year to prove he's more running back than Priest Holmes, whose hip injury is expected to keep him sidelined.
Tennessee by plenty over Jacksonville at the Nashville Coliseum.
It's in the early stages, but this AFC rivalry could someday be the biggest in the South.