Los Angeles Rams travel south to take on the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL on Sunday (9.05pm GMT; 4.05pm ET).
This is arguably the most important divisional matchup on a Sunday slate that features five such matchups. The NFC West has been a battle of some of the better teams in the entire NFC. The Seahawks are currently sitting in first place at 8-3 with the Rams (7-4), Cardinals (6-5), and 49ers (5-6) not far behind. The winner of this Rams vs Cardinals matchup will be sitting in second place.
This is also a pivotal game for the playoff picture. If the season were to end today the Rams would be the 5th seed and the Cardinals would be the 7th seed and the final team to make it in the playoffs.
Both the Rams and Cardinals are coming off brutal losses. They both lost on field goals as time expired. The Rams lost to their division rival San Francisco 49ers and the Cardinals lost to the New England Patriots.
The Cardinals were only able to muster 17 points, but led 10-7 at halftime. This was their lowest scoring output on the season and well below their average points per game (27.7).
The Rams were also below their average points per game (23.9) only scoring 20 against a 49ers defense that allows 23.1 points per game on the season. Both offenses were disappointing, but most concerning was Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Murray did not look to be his explosive self and it has been reported that his shoulder has been bothering him the last few weeks. Murray was limited in practice on Wednesday, but was a full participant on both Thursday and Friday.
Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not practice on Wednesday, due to a reported non-COVID related illness. He was able to practice in full on Thursday and Friday.
Hopkins is the most explosive player on the field and looks to be a full go come Sunday. He will have a difficult task going up against Rams’ corner Jalen Ramey who is known as a shutdown cornerback. Another name to keep an eye on is fellow receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who missed last week on the COVID reserve list. They hope to have him back this week. On Thursday head coach Kliff Kingsbury was still unable to say if Fitzgerald would be activated.
Goff Can’t Handle Pressure
Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff seems to implode under pressure and especially against the blitz. Their four losses on the season have come against teams who blitz at a high rate. The Miami Dolphins rank 3rd in the league in blitz rate, the Buffalo Bills rank 8th, and the 49ers are ranked 11th and beat the Rams twice. The Cardinals rank 4th in the league in blitz rate and love to get after the quarterback with a multitude of different looks.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is known for bringing the heat and constantly switching up his blitz packages. Starting safety Budda Baker is lethal coming off the edge in disguised blitz schemes. He is tied for second on the team in sacks (2) and tied for third in tackles for loss (6). Expect the Cardinals to dial up the pressure against Goff and have him rattled early. This should lead to several sacks and turnovers.
One of the biggest losses for the Rams this season was left tackle Andrew Whitworth who went down with a knee injury. The veteran tackle is not only the most experienced member of the line but also he is a leader for the entire offense. Left tackle is arguably the most important position along the line and this has been a massive loss for a quarterback who can’t handle pressure well.
In their four losses Goff has thrown five interceptions and has been sacked six times. In these games they averaged 21.3 points per game, which was below their average. In their seven wins Goff threw four interceptions and was sacked nine times. In their seven wins against teams that blitz significantly less they averaged 25.4 points per game. I think Goff and the offense will struggle against the pressure once again and ultimately drop their fifth game against teams that blitz at a high rate.
Our Preview’s LA Rams at Arizona Cardinals Betting Tips Verdict
JustBookies is going to be betting the home divisional underdog in this spot. I think they very well could win this important divisional matchup fairly comfortable 27-20. So this is the betting tip of this Rams vs Cards preview:
- Given the odds, they are best 5/4 on the moneyline outright winner market with William Hill, we recommend just playing Arizona Cardinals +2.5pts on the spread @ evens with Betfair.
Compare Rams vs Cards Winner / Moneyline Betting Odds from Top UK Bookies
|Los Angeles Rams||20/29||20/29||20/29||4/6||7/10||13/20||4/6|
Alex Uplinger is well known as an authoritative NFL writer. He also has expertise in his other specialist sport, college basketball. As well as writing for JustBookies, Alex co-hosts and produces American Football podcasts for Blue Wire Network and Full Slate. He contributes to other top sites such as USAbetting.