Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once considered to be a key player in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams appear to have succumb to a Super Bowl hangover. It has gotten so bad; the Rams fell victim to a 45-6 thrashing by the Baltimore Ravens this past week on “Monday Night Football.”
As for the Arizona Cardinals, their record does not indicate how good they have been this season. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have brought a new swagger to the Cardinals offense this season, competing in games against the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.
For the first time this season, the Cardinals (3-7-1) will go to war on the gridiron against the Rams (6-5) Sunday afternoon in State Farm Stadium.
Cardinals need to get running game going early
For the second consecutive week, the Rams defense will be going up against a dual threat quarterback in Kyler Murray. Murray has rushed for 418 yards and has scored three touchdowns. Murray may not carry the football like Lamar Jackson, however, he is capable of scrambling for the first down when needed.
The Rams allowed 17 rushing first downs against the Ravens a week ago, with Baltimore totaling 285 rushing yards. Coming into the game, the Cardinals are averaging 261 rushing yards per game. Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Dante Fowler Jr., will have an easier time this week creating havoc in the backfield as the Cardinals offensive line is very weak.
Kenyan Drake and David Johnson will probably be getting most of the workload out of the Cardinals backfield. Johnson will have plenty to prove the last five games and will look to get it going against the Rams. Lead tackles Cory Littleton and Eric Weddle will be out to keep the Cardinals in check.
Jared Goff and the bad Cardinals pass defense
If the Rams want to keep their playoff hopes alive, they will have to do it through the air. Quarterback Jared Goff is averaging 273.9 yards per game, but poor decision making has led him to throw 12 interceptions thus far into the season.
With Brandin Cooks likely to be shadowed by Patrick Peterson; Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will try to break down Byron Murphy, Budda Baker, and Tramaine Brock. Kupp is Goff’s favorite target this season, catching 67 passes for 880 yards and five touchdowns. Woods is second with 51 catches for 663 yards. Rams tight end Tyler Higbee will be a player to watch as the Cardinals have surrendered 11 touchdowns to tight ends this season and if Gerald Everett is out with a knee injury, he will get most of the snaps.
If the Rams can’t get running back Todd Gurley going in the running game, he could be more effective in the passing game. Gurley has 21 catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. Speaking of Gurley, he one had eight touches against the Ravens last week. If Los Angeles wants to keep their playoff hopes alive, be they need to get Gurley more than eight touches.
With the way the Rams are playing on the field, it is not easy to predict an easy win for the club. There is a possibility that the Cardinals can steal a victory here.
The Cardinals are not the same team as the Ravens, but there is a chance that Murray has one of the best games he has had running the football. If he finds a way to get Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk involved in the passing game, it could be a long day for Aaron Donald, Cory Littleton, Jalen Ramsey and the rest of the Rams defense.
The Rams could break out of their offensive slump here as the Cardinals rank 31st in yards per game. The Rams have two tight ends that are capable of finding the open space down field, which results in the Cardinals surrounding another touchdown to opposing tight ends.
Final prediction score: Arizona wins 28-24