The Los Angeles Rams sit at 2-3 and begin an extremely important four-game stretch that will decide the direction of their season. While the Arizona Cardinals are 1-4, they are certainly not a team that should be overlooked. Let's jump into our five keys to victory for the Rams in Week 6.
1. Stay Disciplined in the Run Game
This is applicable to both sides of the ball, but especially the case on defense. The Arizona Cardinals actually do some really cool things in the run game. They will be without James Conner which should help the Rams, but that doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t try and run the ball.
Cardinals put the TE on a speedy back-and-forth motion and run Split Zone. Look at the path around the QB! pic.twitter.com/7bSeSJyJDK— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) October 5, 2023
The Cardinals hired Drew Petzing as their offensive coordinator who came over from the Cleveland Browns. While he was the quarterbacks coach, he was still in the same building as one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL. Arizona currently leads a top-10 rushing attack. It will be important for linebacker Ernest Jones as well as the defensive linemen and edge rushers to remain disciplined and not get caught out of their gaps or lose contain.
2. Take Advantage of Matchups in the Secondary
Matthew Stafford should be able to find success throwing the ball against this Cardinals secondary. They currently rank 29th in defense dropback EPA and their 52.3 percent success-rate allowed ranks 31st. The Cardinals allow a 72 percent completion percentage which ranks 29th and are one of seven teams to allow opposing quarterbacks to have a passer rating over 100.
Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson is allowing the most yards after the catch in the NFL this season and the Arizona defense will be without Jalen Thompson. There will be matchups to exploit. Look for Stafford and co. to hit those whether it’s Puka Nacua or Cooper Kupp.
3. Win on the Important Downs
The Rams have struggled last week against the Eagles to win on the important downs. Now, the Cardinals aren’t the Eagles, but they actually have performed well on third-down and in the red zone this season.
So far in 2023, the Cardinals have a top-10 offense when it comes to converting on third down, ranking 10th. In the red zone, the Cardinals rank 10th and are up to fourth over just the last three weeks behind the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, and Buffalo Bills. The Rams defense needs to be able to get off the field.
4. Force Josh Dobbs to Target Middle of the Field
Dobbs is fantastic throwing the ball outside the numbers. This season, between 0-20 yards, Dobbs is 23-for-28 throwing outside left and outside right for a combined 46-for-56. If you can get Dobbs to throw over the middle of the field or force him into tight coverages outside the numbers, you can cause mistakes. This is evident in his passing chart from last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals in which he threw two interceptions.
Throwing outside the numbers this season, Dobbs ranks sixth in the NFL in EPA per attempt. This is where he wants to throw the ball. The Rams need to keep him in the pocket and force him to throw over the middle and in danger.
5. Play A Full, Clean Game
Despite being just 1-4, the Cardinals have been much like the Rams in the sense that they play teams hard. Outside of the last two games, the Cardinals were leading heading into the fourth quarter in their previous three. Against the Bengals and 49ers, they only trailed by four and five points respectively.
The Cardinals may not be good, but they are good enough to take advantage of a team on a bad day or capitalize on your mistakes. This season, the Rams have had issues on offense in the second-half of games which has been well-documented. It’s going to take a 60-minute effort to win this game.