The Los Angeles Rams will go for their second division sweep in as many weeks as they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The Rams swept the season series with the Seattle Seahawks with a win last week. They’ll have the chance to do the same against the Cardinals in Week 12.
A lot has changed since the Rams last played the Cardinals in Week 5. Early in the season, Los Angeles took on the Josh Dobbs led Cardinals. Kyler Murray is now back in action and from an individual standpoint, is playing well. Murray has been back two weeks and has a win against the Atlanta Falcons and then Arizona narrowly lost last week to the Houston Texans. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Rams are just 1.5-point favorites on the road.
The Rams need to make sure to take care of business on Sunday to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive. It’s going to be important for Los Angeles to find some level of consistency in the second half of the season and string off some wins. A game against the Cardinals, a team McVay has always had success against, is a great opportunity to do just that.
Rams offense vs. Cardinals defense
When these two teams last played, the Rams rushed for over 170 yards which included 158 from running back Kyren Williams. Williams averaged 7.9 yards per carry in that game and will be making his return to the field following a four-game stint on injured reserve. It will be interesting to see how much the Rams utilize Williams in his return especially now that Royce Freeman and earned a role in the backfield.
The Cardinals run defense remains something that can be taken advantage of from an offense. Last week, Arizona allowed 112 yards to Devin Singletary. The Cardinals rank 22nd in run defense EPA and 26th in run defense success rate. Jonathan Gannon put out a solid gameplan to stop the Rams passing game in Week 5. The Rams will need to rely on the run game once again.
Matchup to Watch: Puka Nacua vs. Marco Wilson
Nacua’s worst game this season came against the Arizona Cardinals when he had just four receptions for 26 yards. With Cooper Kupp less than 100 percent, the Rams will be looking to get Nacua involved like they did in the second half last week against the Seahawks. We’ll see if Nacua can win his matchups this time around or if the Cardinals once again shut him down.
Rams defense vs. Cardinals offense
The biggest difference this time around will be the addition of Kyler Murray for the Cardinals. While the Rams have had success against Murray in the past, he’s certainly an improvement over Josh Dobbs. There are throws that Dobbs missed back in Week 5 that Murray likely hits.
This season, the Rams defense has struggled at times containing mobile quarterbacks. Notably, Jalen Hurts had a few big runs in Week 5 and Anthony Richardson also had 10 carries for 56 yards when the Rams took on the Colts. Murray is still mobile and has ability to hit the downfield throws. The Rams defense will need to remain disciplined.
Matchup to Watch: Ahkello Witherspoon vs. Hollywood Brown
It seems like at least once per week, Withspoon is getting beat vertically and either gets lucky with the sideline or a bad throw. That was the case back in Week 5 on a few different occasions when lining up across from Brown. Brown is dealing with a heel injury this week and has struggled to get on the same page as Murray since his return. If Brown plays, look for Murray to target his top receiver down the field.
The big question here is whether or not the Rams can find some consistency week over week. They haven’t won two in a row all season and division games are always difficult on the road. Can the Rams put last week behind them and focus on stringing together multiple wins? That’s the next stage of development for this young Rams team.
Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford have had success against the Cardinals together. Aaron Donald always seems to play well in this game as well. A loss against the last place Cardinals makes last weeks win meaningless.
Prediction: Rams 24, Cardinals 23