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Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals: Matchups to watch revisited

The Rams dominated the Cardinals on their route to a potential playoff spot. Let’s look at the matchups.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have officially gotten back on track after a thrashing of their divisional rival Arizona Cardinals by a score of 34-7. Ultimately, all three phases of the team performed excellently, which lead to a dominating performance and the renewal of faith of fans in terms of potentially securing a playoff spot.

Let’s revisit the matchups to watch:

QB Kyler Murray vs. Rams’ defense

Last week’s matchup to watch:

The Rams will need to rebound on the defensive side of the ball just one week after QB Lamar Jackson shredded them in every way. Murray is a fantastic player, but he’s a rookie who could be baited into mistakes. The diminutive passer has 14 touchdowns and five interceptions on the season, but he also poses a massive threat with his legs and his speed. The Rams’ pass rush will need to remain disciplined and pressure him early and often.

The Rams’ defense just delivered Murray’s worst performance as a professional through his 13 career games. Not only that, but the defense completely stifled everything the Cardinals tried. Murray completed only 55.9% of his passes for 163 yards (majority of which came in garbage time) and one interception (with another two removed by penalties). DT Aaron Donald led the way with 1.5 sacks and rookie S Taylor Rapp took his first NFL interception to the house. It was a dominant performance from the Rams’ defense, simply put.

DT Aaron Donald vs. G Justin Pugh

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Pugh is one of the better lineman on the Cardinals’ roster (and in the league), but he has the ultimate test this week opposing the great Donald. AD — and every other defender — was invisible last week, which could make for a massive rebound contest. I expect #99 to dominate the game from start to finish, particularly because Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips will move him around on the defensive line to optimize his matchups.

Donald was quite dominant, as we’ve come to expect. Donald locked in 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, and two combined tackles. Donald was consistently affecting the pocket and never allowed Murray to get comfortable from a comfortable launching point. Donald is now up to 9.5 sacks on the season, closing in on another double-digit sack season — fourth in his career, third consecutive.

QB Jared Goff vs. CB Patrick Peterson

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Goff would be wise to elude one of the better cornerbacks in the league in Peterson. Pat Pete has only played in five games this season due to a six-game suspension, but as always, he’s been very good. Goff has developed into a severely mistake-prone signal-caller, likely leaving the Cardinals’ defenders licking their chops. Ideally, the Rams will suffer no turnovers, but that has become a rarity in 2019.

In what seemed to be a theme for most Rams players, Goff put together arguably his best performance of the year as he completed 75% of his passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, the signal-caller didn’t turn the ball over. One of the more underrated but intriguing parts of Goff’s game was eating a sack but securing the ball and not allowing it to be fumbled when RT Bobby Evans whiffed on his defender. Goff threw a bunch of darts in the contest and is trending in the right direction.

OT’s Andrew Whitworth/Bobby Evans vs. EDGE Chandler Jones

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Death. Taxes. And Jones producing a 10-sack season. In only 11 games, Jones is already up to 12.5 sacks on the year, giving himself a shot to set a new career-high with a strong finish. Rookie third-round pick Evans will get another start with Rob Havenstein being ruled out, but Whitworth will get some reps against Jones too. It is crucial that the bookends keep their quarterback clean.

Jones led the NFL in sacks prior to Sunday’s contest, but the Rams’ bookends did a great job limiting Jones to only 0.5 sacks in this game. Jones only had four tackles in addition to his half-sack. After getting thoroughly dominated on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens, the offensive line of the Rams performed admirably.