It’ll be a test of philosophies.
The Cardinals chose to fly to London on Monday afternoon and landed Tuesday so they could have a normal schedule eight time zones away from their home in Arizona. The Rams, on the other hand, didn't fly in until Friday after spending the week in Jacksonville, Florida, following their game last Sunday against the Jaguars.
Only time will tell.
“We’ll be judged by how we play on Sunday,” Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson said. “If we play poorly, people will say it didn’t do us a whole lot of good. If we play well, they’ll probably say it worked.
“That’s just the nature of the deal. You got to get out there and play when the lights are on.”
The Cardinals had an “outstanding week,” coach Bruce Arians said. Although Arians said earlier in the week that his players could come back in March to sightsee in London, plenty of Cardinals made the 45-minute trip to Central London to tour the city, watch a play or grab a meal. Even Arians and general manager Steve Keim made appearances in London at fan events.
Quarterback Carson Palmer said that time away from football -- and, for many, experiencing a new city, new country and new continent -- is beneficial.
“No doubt,” he said. “You spend 10 hours on the plane and just kind of getting to know (your teammates). You’re not talking football at all. Outside of practice, outside of meetings, outside of walk-throughs, all the things we do, you’re around your teammates all the time.
“You’re going out to dinner at night, working out -- just there is no escape, you’re together, you’re at the hotel together. So I think it’s great for chemistry, bonding, all those things.”
This will be the second time in the past three seasons the Cardinals have spent a week away from home between games.
In 2015, they spent the week between Weeks 5 and 6 at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia in between road games against the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers. Although the Cardinals lost the second game of the trip, they went on to finish 13-3 that season.
This time around, Arizona doesn’t want to have “that kind of letdown” it experienced in Pittsburgh two years ago, safety Tyrann Mathieu said.
“We’ve just got to dial in, be focused, got to understand that this is a business trip and we’re ultimately fighting for first place in our division,” he said. “So we’ve got to understand that our opponent is playing really well. They’re extremely confident right now. We just have to match that intensity.”
That’s where the two vastly different approaches to traveling to London could be noticed.
The Cardinals had a week to get their bodies adjusted and get used to the weather and their surroundings. The temperature is expected to be in the low 50s at kickoff, which has generally been the weather all week. There’s a slight chance of rain, also as the Cardinals have experienced all week. Their practice conditions this week -- dreary, cloudy, cold and wet -- will likely be replicated Sunday night.
“All those things really help preparation,” Arians said.
The Rams had two days -- usually about the length of time it takes for body clocks to sync up with the time difference here.
Dawson, who played in London in 2013 with the San Francisco 49ers, has been a resource for younger players who had never traveled to Europe before. They asked questions like how they should adjust to the time difference or how the food would be.
Dawson’s advice was to get in their normal routine as quickly possible. If they go to bed early back in the states, do it in London. If they stay up late back home, stay up here.
Arians was “very pleased” with how the Cardinals handled the week.
“I talked to a bunch of them (Friday) morning, how they felt, and they’re all on a good sleep pattern,” Arians said. “So I feel like they’ve adjusted, and the energy at practice has been very good."