The Los Angeles Rams head to a familiar place this weekend as they take on the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Field. Its once again a game with major impact on the NFC West standings as the 1st place Rams lead the Cardinals by one game. Coming off a Week 6 offensive outburst on the backs of two aging stars, here are my 5 Cardinals to watch.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
An all time great, Fitzgerald is one of the easiest players to root for in the NFL but makes life hell as a Rams fan. Fitzgerald has historically performed at a very high level and is off to one of the best season starts of his career in 2017. Fitzgerald already has 42 catches for 465 yards and 3 TDs this year and is coming off a week 6 game in which he put up 10/138/1 against the Bucs. In 26 career games vs the Rams, Fitzgerald has caught 163 passes for 1890 yards and 17 TDs. For the Rams, it has to be about trying to keep Fitzgerald out of the end zone more so than keeping him from making catches.
EDGE Chandler Jones
Through 6 games, Jones has 6.0 sacks with 1 forced fumble and remains one of the league’s better pass rushers. The Rams have given up only 9 sacks on the year and have continued to look like a completely different offensive line, anchored by LT Andrew Whitworth. One way to help negate the pass rush of Jones would be to run right at him but the Cardinals defense as a whole has been very stout defending the run as they are 4th best in the NFL at holding offenses to an average of 3.3 per carry.
RB Adrian Peterson
Peterson woke up from his year long slumber by rushing for 134 yards and 2 TDs in his first game with the Cardinals after being traded from the New Orleans Saints. It was his first good game since 2015 but he showed up in a big way and helped revive a Cardinals offense that looked stuck in the mud. The Rams have faced Peterson in the past without much success. In 4 career games against the Rams, AP has rushed for 475 yards and 4 TDs. Was last week a fluke for the former MVP or a sign of things to come. The Rams struggling run defense might have its hands full once again.
QB Carson Palmer
There’s been more than a handful of people have already deemed Carson Palmer as finished and no longer a good QB but he’s still scraped together some good passing numbers. He definitely does not appear to have as much zip on his passes anymore but he still leads a Cardinals offense that’s 10th in total yards. Palmer has completed 61.8% of passes for 1856 yards, 9 TDs and 6 INTs. The Cardinals have given up 21 sacks which is the NFL’s 3rd highest total and isn’t helped by the fact that now Palmer offers almost no mobility from the pocket.
CB Justin Bethel
Playing opposite of lockdown CB Patrick Peterson, Bethel oftentimes gets targeted as teams avoid Peterson’s side of the field completely. Through the early part of the season Bethel was up to task but has since cooled off as he’s part of a secondary that’s allowing the 7th most yards and the 2nd most TDs to opposing WRs. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to see the Rams target Bethel as Peterson is coming off a game against a Buccaneer’s offense that features Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson in which he didn’t allow a single catch on 4 targets. On the year, Bethel has 1 interception that was returned for a TD and 4 pass breakups.