The first meeting between the two teams was a completely one-sided contest in which the Rams won 34-0. A lot has changed though, particularly for the Cardinals who moved on from QB Sam Bradford to rookie Josh Rosen. They also reverted to more of a Bruce Arians style of offense under Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich.
The Rams look to repair the ineffective and sloppy offensive play from the past few weeks. It’ll be incredibly important to get QB Jared Goff rolling and confident prior to the playoffs. The Rams may be without bellcow RB Todd Gurley, though his availability still has yet to be decided.
Let’s take a look at the matchups to watch:
DT Aaron Donald vs LG Will Holden
According to teamrankings, the Cardinals allow three sacks per game and are sacked on 8.9% of their snaps. Both ranks come in the bottom third of the league. QB Josh Rosen is an absolute statue in the pocket and the Cardinals’ offensive line is downright terrible. DT Aaron Donald will have a chance to break the defensive tackle sack record of 18 this week, so long as the Cardinals don’t go dumping the ball off every snap again.
RB C.J. Anderson vs Cardinals’ front-7
With Todd Gurley being in danger of missing the contest on Sunday, the Rams will need recently-signed veteran C.J. Anderson to rise to the occasion. Anderson only has 24 carries for 104 yards on the season, though has historically been a productive runner — particularly in offenses that operate under zone blocking schemes. The Cardinals are allowing 144.9 rushing yards per game, good for second last in the NFL. They also allow 4.7 yards-per-carry, ranking 22nd in the league. Anderson could be in line for quite a productive game if given the opportunities.
QB Jared Goff vs Cardinals’ secondary
Jared Goff has had quite a strange season after the roller coaster of the past three weeks is examined. Initially a quiet MVP candidate, Goff has fluttered the past three weeks with only one passing touchdown and a combined 10 turnovers. If there’s a time for Goff to gain some confidence back and put forth a solid performance, it’s now. With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s absolutely crucial the Rams get their signal caller back in good graces and comfort.
LT Andrew Whitworth vs OLB Chandler Jones
Chandler Jones is one of the most underrated players in the league year-in-year-out. Jones is up to 12 sacks on the season, though he was kept in check in the first contest between the Rams and Cardinals (0 sacks). Big Whit will need to keep his QB’s backside clean helping Goff get back into rhythm.
WR Robert Woods vs CB Patrick Peterson
Robert Woods is as good as they come, and this week he’ll likely draw the coverage of eight-time pro bowler Patrick Peterson. Peterson does have an illness and is questionable this week, though he’ll likely go after never missing a game in his NFL career. Woods had six receptions for 81 yards in the first contest and will likely play an integral role in Goff bouncing back to the MVP candidate he was just a few weeks prior.