The Cardinals and Rams are well acquainted with each other as divisional rivals and will be meeting at SoFi Stadium in the Wild Card round to determine who will advance into the next round of the postseason tournament.
Below we break it all down as we determine which team we will be backing in our NFL picks on Monday night.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Monday, January 17, 2022, 8:15 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
It will be two NFC West archrivals squaring off on Monday night when the Cardinals travel to Inglewood to meet the Rams, an opponent whom they defeated, 37-20, in Week 4 but subsequently lost to, 30-23, in Week 14. In that contest, LA’s Matthew Stafford struck for touchdowns to Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson, and Cooper Kupp while tossing for 287 passing yards.
However, the night was not nearly as productive for Arizona’s Kyler Murray as he racked up 383 yards but failed to connect for in the end zone and tossed a pair of interceptions in the loss. Putting Murray’s 61 rushing yards aside, the Cardinals’ ground game was stifled as James Conner and Rondale Moore accounted for only 42 combined rushing yards on 15 carries.
However, Conner did blast through for a one-yard touchdown run, which was his seventh consecutive game with at least a score and tied him for the franchise record set in 1960 by John David Crow. Conner’s streak was snapped the following game in a 30-12 loss to the Lions.
“Not very clean but I thought the effort was as good as we’ve had as far as start to finish,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Some adverse situations and guys continued to battle and stay in the game, but just not clean enough in any phase.”
Rams End With a Whimper
After reeling off five straight wins, the Rams battled their divisional rivals from San Francisco and held a 17-point lead midway through the second quarter before the 49ers stormed back and claimed a 27-24 overtime victory.
Matthew Stafford had three touchdown passes, two to Tyler Higbee and one to Cooper Kupp, and 238 yards through the air but the mental miscues continue to plague him as he also tossed two interceptions. The LA rushing attack was stymied as well, totaling 64 yards on 27 carries.
“This is a tough feeling,” coach Sean McVay said. “Our guys did a good job being able to navigate through the season. To be able to still win the division is a good accomplishment, but I don’t know that right now is the time to celebrate that.”
“There are some plays out there I want back,” Stafford said. “I guess (a division title) is nice. It means you get a home playoff game. But we would have rather won the game, for sure.”
The silver lining in the loss was the return to action of running back, Cam Akers, who has missed the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon. The Rams’ second-round pick in 2020 had five carries totaling just three yards and also made three receptions.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The Rams are a good team that seems to be on the verge of greatness but can’t quite get over the hump when it counts. Matthew Stafford was brought on board in place of Jared Goff this season to push LA over the edge.
And while his regular-season numbers are impressive, 41 touchdown passes and 3886 passing yards, we can’t help but notice that he has thrown eight of his 17 interceptions over the last four games. Some believe he has underlying physical issues which have caused him to change his throwing mechanics leading to errant passes and fumbles.
But whatever the case, it doesn’t bode well against an opportunistic Arizona defense that is tied for the top spot in the league with 14 recovered fumbles while they are +12 in turnover differential (fumbles + interceptions), ranking them fourth in that category.
Moreover, the Redbirds will be getting J.J. Watt back on defense while the Rams will see one of their best secondary men, safety Jordan Fuller, on the shelf with an ankle injury suffered in their loss to the 49ers. Fuller often gets overlooked because of the presence of stalwart cornerback Jalen Ramsey but he is a big loss to that Rams’ defense.
While the Cardinals would love to see the return of DeAndre Hopkins in this one, he will be sidelined yet again but this is still a very evenly matched game and the home venue does very little for the Rams as there are often as many opposing fans at SoFi Stadium as partisans. Arizona also won here earlier in the season which is why the NFL odds at the best sportsbooks revealing the Cards at +4 are tough to ignore.
NFL Pick: Cardinals +4 (-110) at BetMGM