After losing to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18, the Los Angeles Rams fell to the No. 4 seed and will host the No. 5 seed Arizona Cardinals at Sofi Stadium in the Wild Card round of the 2022 playoffs.
The game will be the first Monday Night Football game in NFL postseason history, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17 at 5:15 p.m. PT on ESPN and ABC.
A win against the 49ers would have kept the Rams in the No. 2 seed and allowed them to potentially host two playoff games, but instead face off against the Cardinals, who dropped their Week 18 matchup to the Seattle Seahawks. While Los Angeles did secure the NFC West crown thanks to Arizona’s defeat, it was dampened by the squandered opportunity to play a lower seed in the Wild Card.
During the 2021 season, the Rams and Cardinals split their series 1-1 with the former winning their last matchup in Week 13. Since then, the two teams have gone in opposite directions as Los Angeles was able to reel off a perfect December while Arizona has largely struggled to recapture the success they had at the start of the season.
The Cardinals woes could be attributed to the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, who suffered a knee injury late in their loss to the Rams. His absence has made life difficult for Kyler Murray, who has been forced to rely on the rest of his receivers, but Hopkins’ absence can not be understated given what he means to their offense.
While Arizona has already beaten L.A. on their turf, the latter is in a much better position this time around to come away with a victory. The Rams have settled in as a more physical ground team with Sony Michel, and the addition of Cam Akers adds another dimension to their backfield. Defensively, the team has perked up and should be more ready to handle Murray’s dual-threat skillset and ability to extend plays.
It will be a tough game, but the Rams have a good shot of advancing and making a deep postseason run.