Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams host the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night in the last of the NFL Wildcard Round matchups. With a 71,500-strong crowd expected at SoFi Stadium, these NFC West foes collide for the third time this season. We break down the top betting tips and key team news.
Following a 7-0 start to the season, Arizona limped into the playoffs as the fifth seed after losing four of their last five games. A 38-30 loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 18 was another setback but expect Kyler Murray to dazzle in his postseason debut.
The Rams are all-in on this season with their defensive superstars and a red-hot Cooper Kupp, but familiar concerns emerged in last weekend’s 27-24 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The teams split their two regular season matchups and this could come down to the final drive. We’re leaning towards the visitors.
The Rams traded for Matthew Stafford as the missing piece for a Super Bowl charge but he enters the playoffs as arguably their biggest concern. Stafford, who injured his toe against the 49ers, has thrown seven interceptions in his last three games and must play better against a talented Cardinals front seven if Los Angeles is going to progress here.
Without Robert Woods (ACL), the Rams are still searching for a reliable second receiver. Either Odell Beckham Jr. or Van Jefferson need to take some of the pressure off Kupp’s shoulders. Tyler Higbee’s two-touchdown outing on Sunday was encouraging.
Sony Michel should be a big part of the Los Angeles game plan after Arizona gave up 190 yards and a touchdown on the ground to Rashaad Penny last time out. Meanwhile, the Rams lured Eric Weddle out of retirement to help a depleted secondary that will be without Jordan Fuller and possibly Taylor Rapp too.
With DeAndre Hopkins (knee) sidelined, Arizona’s offense has not looked the same. If Murray is going to lead the Cardinals to a road win here against a bruising Rams defensive line, the onus is on Christian Kirk, A.J. Green and Zach Ertz to be more effective in filling the Hopkins void.
There is optimism that Chase Edmonds and James Conner (ribs) will both be available to spearhead the Arizona backfield, but Murray could be the Cardinals’ leading rusher on Monday if he is continually flushed from the pocket. He ran for 35 yards on Sunday.
Defensively, there could also be good news for the visitors in the shape of a surprise return for J.J. Watt after a shoulder injury. That would just add to the Arizona pass rush, though the run defense was the bigger concern in Week 18. Expect to see double coverage on Kupp, with the Rams’ other pass-catchers blowing hot and cold.
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