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Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals: Matchups to watch revisited

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Oh baby, today was an enjoyable one on all three phases. Record breakers and street free agents eatin’.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After riding a two game losing streak, the Los Angeles Rams returned to their early-season winning ways with a big 31-9 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Both the offense and defense were in firm control all game, with DT Aaron Donald breaking multiple records. Donald set the all-time single-season defensive tackle sack record at 19.5 sacks, he also broke the all-time Rams single-season sack record of 19 which was set by DE Robert Quinn.

Let’s revisit the matchups to watch:

DT Aaron Donald vs LG Will Holden

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

I guess this turned out to be correct, because Aaron Donald did in fact break the sack record of 18. Not only that, but he broke the Rams’ single-season sack record of 19 as well. Donald is now up to 19.5 sacks on the season, and with a monster game against the San Francisco 49ers, he can threaten the all-time single-season sack record of 22.5, set by Michael Strahan.

RB C.J. Anderson vs Cardinals’ front-7

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

C.J. Anderson had a fantastic performance today with 20 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown. Anderson came in on three or so days of practice and averaged a tremendous 8.4 yards-per-carry in the contest. Anderson ran through relatively large holes, but his power and vision are undeniable. If the game was close in score, there’s a good shot Anderson breaks 200 rushing yards in the game. He was ultimately benched at the end of the game to conserve his body moving forward. Sunday was a fantastic first impression for Anderson with RB Todd Gurley inactive for the game.

QB Jared Goff vs Cardinals’ secondary

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

Jared Goff wasn’t asked to do much in the game as the rushing attack was spectacular, though Goff did have a few pinpoint accurate passes and third down conversions. Goff and Woods had a solid connection riding through the game, and TE Gerald Everett was targeted six times throughout the game. Goff needs to do a better job protecting the ball as he had another fumble, though this one wasn’t as egregious as the last few.

LT Andrew Whitworth vs OLB Chandler Jones

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

Chandler Jones was absolutely invisible in the contest, meaning Andrew Whitworth performed fantastically. Not only that, but the ground game had 250 yards rushing, meaning the entire offensive line performed well.

WR Robert Woods vs CB Patrick Peterson

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

Robert Woods was the featured receiver on the day as he was targeted a team-leading seven times. Woods translated that into six receptions for 89 receiving yards and a touchdown. Not only that, but he gained another 15 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on two rushing attempts.


Though the Rams played against a bad opponent, they had a strong bounce-back performance after two lackluster weeks. The Rams will finish their regular season facing off against another division rival in the San Francisco 49ers.