After allowing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to score on each of their four red zone opportunities (three touchdowns and one field goal), the Los Angeles Rams red zone defense has lost a bit of the mystique they had after their dominant first two weeks of the 2021 campaign. In fairness to said red zone defense, those first two weeks were against Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz, while the most recent scoring drives were led by the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady.
Here we go folks. The @AZCardinals have a chance to make a HUGE statement on the road against the Rams in week 4. Here’s how the numbers compare in the divisional matchup of unbeatens. #RedSea #BeatLA pic.twitter.com/wPYsOyILxi— 2 Birds 1 Stone Podcast (@2Birds1StonePod) October 1, 2021
The Rams are now allowing opposing offenses to score points in the red zone 72 percent of the time. This includes allowing touchdowns at a rate of 54 percent once offenses cross the 20 yard line. Creating a turnover or two against the Arizona Cardinals once they enter the red zone would go a long way in both reviving that dominant red zone defense and securing first place in the NFC west by knocking off the undefeated division rival.
If the Rams are able to create a turnover in the red zone against the Cards, it will be the first time this year Arizona commits such a mistake. In fact, the Cardinals have been perfect in the red zone, scoring on 100 percent of their trips inside the 20 yard line. In their 13 red zone possessions, Arizona has been able to score 10 touchdowns, while adding three field goals.
Former Cincinnati Bengal A.J. Green leads the Cardinals with four red zone targets, while converting one of those into a score. DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore (who also has one rushing attempt) are right behind him with three red zone targets a piece. Hopkins has made the most of his looks, converting all three into touchdowns.
Quarterback Kyler Murray has been dynamic once his team gets close to the goal line. Not only has he thrown five red zone touchdowns to three different receivers, he has also accounted for three of Arizona’s five rushing touchdowns inside the 20 yard line.
In addition to Murray being a huge part of Arizona’s run game, the Cardinals use a two running back system to maximize the abilities of their playmakers. Running back John Conner is the clear goal line back, pacing the backfield with eight carries. Chase Edmonds has three carries, while adding two targets to the ledger.
It will be interesting to see how the Rams defend the Cardinals as they get closer to the goal line. The only thing better (aside from a victory of course) would be if L.A. is able to keep them out of the red zone all together. I choose that option.