The NFC West was like a track race with three Usain Bolt runners just a few weeks ago. Now, it seems like the Seattle Seahawks are ready to run away with the division and the San Francisco 49ers (??) are somehow making a push to be a Wildcard team if they can just stay healthy. The confusion gets even more intriguing as now two teams in the West call Arizona home as the Cards will be sharing their stadium with the Niners for the remainder of the season.
Nonetheless, a massively impactful game goes down this week as Los Angeles takes on the Cardinals in what will be their first game of the season. If you didn’t know, tie breakers in a division are decided first by head-to-head record of those teams and then to record inside the division followed by strength of schedule. That means whatever team wins this Sunday will have a huge leg up right off the bat.
The Cards are riding a two-game losing streak and are coming off an especially bad loss to a Patriots team that needed an electric shock to get going. The Rams upset the Bucs just two weeks ago but then got the Niners at the wrong time, for the second time this season, and dropped the game.
Both of these teams have a weird undisciplined thing going on with them. For the Rams, it starts with Jared Goff. He faced a really good Bucs defense and torched them for 376 yards and two scores. Then he faces a 49ers defense which deserves a ton of credit but is also really injured, he threw for just 198 yards, two interceptions and had 52.9 rating.
For the Cardinals, their offense is also to blame for their hot and cold struggles. It’s less on Kyler Murray as the quarterback is putting up big numbers game after game although he did struggle against the Patriots. But their drives seem to stall out quickly some weeks and the playcalling is absolutely bizarre. I would peg this one of Kliff Kingsbury and chalk it up to inexperience.
Cardinals Players to Watch:
Arizona Cardinals, Deandre Hopkins: Hopkins has been sensational so far for the Cardinals this season but there is a concerning trend with him as well. In every game that Hopkins has been held to 60 yards or less, they’ve lost. That’s been games against the Pats, Hawks, Dolphins and Panthers. Hopkins is going to have to face Jalen Ramsey this week and that’s not an easy guy to go against. If Hopkins can’t get it going, AZ has to adapt quickly.
Rams Players to Watch:
Los Angeles Rams, Cam Akers: The rookie running back has dealt with a ton of injuries but now he is back and has two touchdowns in the last two weeks. Goff is a hit or a miss at QB at this point so Akers, who is facing the 21st ranked rush attack in the league should have some room for a big day.
Cardinals vs. Rams Prediction:
The Rams are favored by three here but I think Arizona regains its confidence.
Rams 26 Cardinals 28
By: Matt Lively CruelFan.com