The Los Angeles Rams are hoping to end the disappointing 2019 NFL season on a high note against the Arizona Cardinals in their final home game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams managed to take care of business the first time around by beating the Cardinals in dominant fashion with a 34-7 win in Week 13. Although they had initially hoped it was the spark of a potential resurgence down the stretch, it would not be long before they eventually fell out of playoff contention by losing two of the next three games.
Arizona is coming off an impressive 27-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks and are looking to secure some momentum going into the offseason by ending the year on a winning streak.
Rams Offense Vs. Cardinals Defense
The Rams will be quite healthy with running back Darrell Henderson as the only player on offense that has been ruled out after being placed on injured reserve. This means Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown will likely split the touches out of the backfield.
Arizona has been dealing with some injuries on defense heading into Week 17. Regardless, it appears outside linebacker Chandler Jones and safety Budda Baker will be good to go after getting a full practice in.
Rams Defense Vs. Cardinals Offense
Los Angeles will be without cornerback Jalen Ramsey after head coach Sean McVay revealed that he is dealing with a strain to the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee. Cornerback Troy Hill has also been listed as doubtful with a thumb injury. Fortunately, defensive tackle Michael Brockers was able to log in a full practice after sitting out of practice all week with a knee injury.
Headlines Arizona’s injury report is quarterback Kyler Murray, who picked up a hamstring injury last week against Seattle and is still listed as questionable. If Murray is unable to play, then backup Brett Hundley will take over under center once again.
Three Keys To Victory
1. Establish Run Game
The last time these two teams squared off, McVay put an emphasis on getting the run game going early on and it paid huge dividends for their overall balanced approach as the backfield combined to rush for 142 yards. It is safe to say that the Rams may need to put an emphasis on getting it going once again this time around.
With Henderson ruled out, it will be interesting to see how the workload is split between Gurley and Brown.
2. Avoid Costly Mistakes
One of the biggest issues plaguing Jared Goff in the 2019 campaign has been his acuity when it comes to taking care of the ball. While a successful run-heavy scheme tends to take the pressure off of him while keeping the opposition on their toes, this favorable matchup against a porous Cardinals defense should allow him to replicate the same success he enjoyed in their first meeting.
Of course, the Rams defense has also been plagued by botched plays that resulted in easy points for the other team. This will be the last chance for many of the young, integral players on this side of the ball to make a good impression before having to polish their skill set this offseason.
3. Keep Edges Contained
Whether or not Murray plays, the defense will need to put an emphasis on forcing the Cardinals offense to work from the pocket rather than allowing them to get the edge. Running back Kenyan Drake has enjoyed quite the resurgence in Arizona and would love nothing more than to cap off his year with a strong performance against an NFC West rival.
Meanwhile, Hundley is also more than capable of making defenses pay with his legs after gashing the Seahawks for 35 yards on six carries last week.
Win or lose, the Rams will be hosting fans on the field after the game for a firework show to commemorate the final game at the Coliseum before moving into SoFi Stadium in 2020.