The Rams have entered their lowest point of the season, as last week’s loss to the Buccaneers was an absolute heart-breaker for everyone involved. Losing a game that they seemed to have control of hurts a lot more than losing by two to three scores. Nevertheless, the season will continue, and the Rams will need to move on quickly if they want to make a playoff push.
Coming off their second consecutive loss and sitting at 3-5, the Rams will look to get one step closer to getting back to .500, which will go a long way towards getting back on track. Their opponent this week will be an NFC West rival in the Arizona Cardinals, who currently have a record of 3-6, a team that is also coming off of back-to-back losses.
Although these teams do not have the best of records, both squads are desperate for a victory, and the loser of this game can (more than likely) kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. Since hiring Sean McVay back in 2017, Los Angeles has dominated the Cardinals, boasting a record of 11-1 (including their playoff match-up) against their division foe.
Here are 3 reasons why the Rams dominance over Arizona will continue, as well as 3 reasons why they may drop their third consecutive game.
3 REASONS THE RAMS WILL WIN
1) ABILITY TO RUN THE BALL AGAINST THE CARDINALS
There is one thing that is for sure about the 2022-2023 Los Angeles Rams, and that is the fact that they have struggled to find any sort of consistent ground attack through eight games. With that being said, they have found a way to hit the century mark in rushing yards in two games this season, with one of those being against these Arizona Cardinals.
Back in Week 3, the Rams were able to rush for exactly 100 yards on just 20 attempts, which resulted in a season-high in yards per carry (5.0). Both of their touchdowns in that game came from the ground game as well, which resulted in the first game in Stafford’s time as a Ram in which he did not throw for a TD.
As many know, Stafford may miss this week’s game due to a concussion, in which case backup quarterback John Wolford would most likely get the starting nod. With that possibility being considered, if the Rams want to win, establishing the ground attack will be massive in terms of making the game easier for Wolford and the offense as a whole.
When the Rams win this Sunday, expect the rushing attack to reach 100+ yards in a game for the third time this season.
2) DEFENSE CONTINUES TO BE THE STRENGTH OF THE TEAM
The Rams this season have not played complementary football consistently, often at the expense of their defense. The defense is only allowing 17.8 points per game (subtracting offensive/special teams turnovers that lead to points), which is good for 6th best in the NFL.
Back in Week 3 in Arizona, the L.A. defense had a shutdown performance, keeping the Cardinals out of the end-zone for the entire game. The only Cardinals player to score was their kicker, who went 4/4 on the day resulting in just 12 points for the home team.
When the Rams win this week, expect the defense to have another spectacular performance.
3) JALEN RAMSEY
With the return of star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals will have one of the best in the game at their disposal that they did not have in the first match-up between these teams. However, the Rams have perhaps the best counter to D-Hop, which is Jalen Ramsey.
One of the main reasons DeAndre Hopkins is so dominant is his sheer size, as at 6’1 212 pounds, he plays big and is a constant red-zone threat. With that being said, Jalen Ramsey stacks up incredibly well with that size, as he is 6’1 194 pounds himself, and has displayed just how physical he is.
Jalen has expressed in the past just how excited he gets for these types of match-ups, and has even said D-Hop is his toughest counterpart. With that being considered, I fully expect Jalen Ramsey to be completely locked in all game, which bodes extremely well for this Rams team.
When the Rams get back into the win column against Arizona, expect Jalen Ramsey to have a massive impact in the game.
3 REASONS THE RAMS MAY LOSE
1) OFFENSE SPUTTERS ONCE AGAIN
There is no secret that the Rams have been one of the worst offenses, if not the worst considering preseason expectations, in the entire NFL. Averaging just 16.4 points per game this season, which is 29th in the league, the offense has become one of the biggest disappointments in the league this season.
The fact that the Rams have a defense that is giving up just 17.8 points per game (minus offensive/special teams turnovers that led to points) and have a record of 3-5 speaks to just how awful this offense has been thus far. If someone told me this defense would be performing this well through 8 contests, I would assume they would be 8-0 due to the success that L.A. has seen offensively under Sean McVay in the past.
If the Rams lose their third straight game, expect the offense to be awful once again.
2) KLIFF KINGSBURY DESPERATION
Sitting at a disappointing 3-6 to go along with an epic collapse last season, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is definitely on the hot seat. At this point, Kingsbury is coaching to save his job, and a win on the road against a team that has dominated him would go a long way towards that.
One of the toughest outs in the NFL is when a team is playing desperate, and the Cardinals have reached the point where they cannot afford to lose back-to-back-to-back games. If coach Kingsbury can get the team to rally behind him, and play for their coach, they have a shot to turn things around.
3) TOUGH LOSS CARRYOVER
Last week was easily the toughest loss of the season thus far, as L.A. dropped a game that seemed to be right in their hands. Losing a game in the fashion that they did can often leave a stain on a team, possibly creating a rift in the locker room if things are not handled/addressed properly.
With a record of 3-5, the Rams sense of urgency should be at a season-high if they want to make a playoff push, so how they come out and perform this week will say a lot in terms of what the mood of the team is. If they come out lethargic, it will be clear that last week destroyed the confidence of the team and the rest of the season will suffer for it.
If the Rams lose only their second game to the Cardinals since hiring McVay, expect for last week’s tough loss to carryover into this week.