At 3-5, the Los Angeles Rams’ postseason hopes are quickly evaporating. Although they’re far from being mathematically eliminated, Week 10 feels like a must-win in order to stay in the race.
Unfortunately for them, the Arizona Cardinals are facing the same kind of urgency which could lead to a much more spirited contest on Sunday. Injuries could sway the direction of the matchup either way, but the Rams have had the Cardinals’ number since Sean McVay took over as head coach.
In another NFC West clash, Los Angeles’ season feels like it hangs in the balance against what could be a desperate Arizona squad.
Rams Offense vs. Cardinals Defense
All eyes will be on Matthew Stafford’s availability after he was placed in the concussion protocol earlier this week. The team listed Stafford as a limited participant on Friday, meaning there’s a chance he can suit up. However, if he’s unable to go, which is the expectation, it’ll be John Wolford taking the reins on offense.
Wolford’s a more mobile quarterback who’s capable of scrambling when the pocket breaks down, which could be part of the offensive gameplan if Stafford is forced to sit. The Rams might catch a break as Budda Baker is listed as questionable, but even if he’s able to go, the team can find success in the short areas on the field.
Cooper Kupp is a constant in the passing game, but someone like Tyler Higbee could find himself with extra targets considering Arizona struggles guarding tight ends. They’re also susceptible to running backs, though that has far been a strong suit of the Rams this season.
With Kyren Williams returning to action though, perhaps the Rams look to get him some work in the ground game.
Rams Defense vs. Cardinals Offense
Los Angeles might catch a break as Kyler Murray is listed as a game-time decision with a hamstring injury. Like Stafford, he is not expected to play so it could be a battle of the backups with Colt McCoy starting for Arizona.
Even so, the Rams will need to contend with DeAndre Hopkins who has been on fire since coming back from suspension.
Like the Rams, the Cardinals also struggle to run the football which means Murray or McCoy will look to move the ball via the air. Rondale Moore is a downfield threat that can break off big plays, while Zach Ertz remains a solid option in the middle of the field. If L.A. can contain Hopkins, however, they stand a good shot of limiting Arizona’s offense.
Keys To Victory
1. Manufacture a ground game
Running the football has been a struggle all season, but establishing the ground game in some capacity is necessary to keep the Cardinal defense honest. While Williams, Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson will get their touches, McVay would be wise to try and manufacture rushing yards via jet sweeps with Kupp or someone like Brandon Powell.
Wolford would factor in here as well with designed runs in the event Stafford can’t go.
2. Jalen Ramsey vs. DeAndre Hopkins
Jalen Ramsey and Hopkins is always a must-watch defensive back-wide receiver matchup in the NFL. While Ramsey has spent more time closer to the line of scrimmage, Raheem Morris will surely give his star opportunities to line up against Hopkins.