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Bengals-Cardinals will serve as measuring stick for Rams in Week 5

Rams will host Cardinals in Week 6; loser will likely be in last place of NFC West

Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams rebounded last week with a win over the Indianapolis Colts to move to 2-2, but before that their prospects on the season seemed bleak. LA had just dropped two straight: Week 3 against the rival San Francisco 49ers and then a Monday Night Football loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The offensive line—and injuries to key players such as LT Alaric Jackson and RG Joe Noteboom—played a major role in the team coming up short against San Francisco and Cincinnati, and this group still has some significant questions in terms of health.

While losing to the Bengals was disappointing, especially considering the defense held Joe Burrow and his dynamic weapons to only 19 points (even with two offensive turnovers), their game this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals should give the Rams some insight into how they match up against a friskier-than-expected divisional rival and whether they have real contention hopes in 2023. The result of Bengals-Cardinals should serve as an important measuring stick for the Rams, and it’s worth paying attention to.

Josh Dobbs has been a revelation for a Cardinals team that many assumed was a near-lock to land the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft this spring, and he’s using both his arm and legs to keep the Arizona offense ahead of the chains. He has plenty of firepower around him with receivers Hollywood Brown, impressive rookie Michael Wilson, and veteran TE Zach Ertz. Dobbs has a knack for doing just enough to keep the Cardinals competitive and getting the ball to his playmakers.

Not to look ahead too far, but Arizona will be a much tougher test for the Rams next week than we would have expected entering the season. Both teams are 2-2 and tied for last place in the NFC West. Regardless of the outcomes of Bengals-Cardinals and Eagles-Rams this weekend, the result of next week’s game will likely decide whether LA or Arizona is holding up the rear of their division.

The Rams and Cardinals are also in danger of falling well behind the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West race. The 49ers have looked unstoppable of times and the Seahawks’ only blemish on their record has been in their season opener against Los Angeles—a team they’ve struggled with in recent years.

There’s a chance that after five games this season we still won’t know who this year’s Rams team is. Are they capable of keeping pace with the 49ers and Seahawks and able to make the NFC West interesting? Will they be in the wildcard race at the end of the season and be a frisky challenger to a division winner on the road in the playoffs? Or could they be fighting neck and neck with the Cardinals for last place in their division?

At this point, it seems all of those outcomes are possible. More information is needed for the Rams, a young team that is growing before our eyes—and the outcome of Bengals-Cardinals this week should be one of the most informative items we have on this year’s squad.