With a trip to Tampa Bay on the line, the Los Angeles Rams play the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night to wrap up the Wildcard round. After a productive season from both squads all eyes will be on the stars of both sides to step up and play their best ball. For the Rams, Cooper Kupp will look to follow a historic season with a playoff run, Aaron Donald will seek to disrupt the game for a return to the Super Bowl, and Matthew Stafford aims to achieve his first post season win. But who are the role players or under the radar players that need to hold their own for the Rams to beat the Cardinals? Here are a few to watch.
NICK SCOTT and TERRELL BURGESS
Scott and Burgess will be holding down the back of the secondary in place of injured starters Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp who are both out due to injuries. Scott is in his third season after being drafted in the seventh round by the Rams out of Penn State. Scott started one game this season against the Seattle Seahawks and in that game he had four tackles and on the year he’s had 47 tackles and two interceptions. Burgess has started two games this year and on the season has 10 tackles.
Akers seemed on track to become the main starter for the Rams after an impressive rookie season that included a 171 yard game against the New England Patriots, until his year was stunted by an achilles injury pre season. He’s made a historic comeback getting in for his first game action in Week 18 and is set to play a part in the playoff run. Along with Sony Michel who’s been holding down the running back position well, Akers could have an impact as a rotational ball carrier against the Cardinals.
Gaines has played well alongside Aaron Donald and Ashawn Robinson in his third season. In his first year as a starter, Gaines has 55 tackles, four tackles for a loss, and four and half sacks. He’s also shown the uncanny ability for his position to chase down a quarterback evacuating the pocket. If Gaines can have an impact on the Cardinals it may provide a more solid answer to the question of “how good is Gaines?” and “is he a long term solution on the line?”
And now for today’s links:
Updated divisional round path: Winner of Rams-Cardinals to face Buccaneers in Tampa Bay (Rams.com)
Top Rams News: What experts are saying about Rams-Cardinals Wild Card round playoff game (Rams.com)
Here’s which uniforms the Rams will wear against the Cardinals on Monday (RamsWire)
J.J. Watt expected to play vs. Rams on Monday (RamsWire)
2021 NFL playoffs: What we learned from Chiefs’ win over Steelers on Super Wild Card Weekend (NFL.com)
NFL announces Divisional Round schedule (NFL.com)
San Francisco 49ers pull off road upset at Dallas Cowboys in ‘rollercoaster’ matchup between old rivals (ESPN)
Dallas Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy defends QB draw play: ‘Shouldn’t have had problem getting ball spotted’ (ESPN)