Week 13 Preview: Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinalsby MJ Hurley December 5, 2020 1 comment
The NFC West is arguably the best division in football, and now two of those teams play in Glendale, AZ. Due to the COVID restrictions in Santa Clara County, the San Francisco 49ers have been forced to make their new home in the Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium.
For the Rams and Cardinals, the last five weeks have been extremely frustrating. The Rams have lost games against the 49ers and Dolphins, and Los Angeles was favored in both games. Arizona has lost one-score games to the Patriots, Seahawks, and Dolphins which has caused their record to fall from 5-2 to 6-5. With the NFC West still up for grabs, and the wild card situation in the NFC still very fluid, this Sunday afternoon matchup will be key for the playoff picture moving forward.
The focus for Los Angeles will be shutting down Kyler Murray and keeping him in the pocket. In Murray’s last two games, he has been held to 46 rushing yards on ten attempts and zero touchdowns. When Murray rushes well and creates with his legs, the Cardinals generally win. It is not just his legs though. Murray has been limited in the passing game for the last two weeks as well. In their first matchup with the Seahawks, Murray threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns, but last Sunday against the Patriots Murray was only able to muster 170 yards on 34 attempts.
The Cardinals running back room puts some of the weight on their shoulders. This week they have to help create room for Murray in the running game.
“Teams don’t want (Murray) to beat them with his ability, so it’s going to come back to us doing our job to handle that load. I feel like we’re fully capable of doing that,” said Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake.
With Larry Fitzgerald possibly out this week while on the COVID list, the focus will be on the matchup between DeAndre Hopkins and top NFL corner Jalen Ramsey. Although Ramsey was listed as having a hip injury, the Rams expect him to be a full go against Hopkins this week.
Jared Goff and the Rams offense will look to rebound from an embarrassing performance against an undermanned 49ers defense in Week 12. Goff threw two interceptions, zero touchdowns and the Rams looked off-balance all game. With an array of running backs including Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, and Cam Akers, the running attack will be very important in keeping the ball out of Murray’s hands on Sunday.
Date: December 6, 2020
Start Time: 1:05PM PST
Location: Glendale, AZ
Stadium: State Farm Stadium
TV Info: FOX
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Points Spread: LAR -2.5 (-110) | AZ +2.5 (+110)
Moneyline: LAR (-155) | AZ (+125)
Over/Under: O 48 (-110) | U 48 (-110)
Neither offense has been particularly impressive recently. It leads to the conclusion that the under in this matchup might be a smart play. An NFC West matchup between two very closely matched teams is very difficult to predict a spread or Moneyline take, but the Rams are better built to win a smashmouth football game. Avoid the spread and pick the Rams Moneyline if absolutely necessary.
This will be a very close game, and either team could easily maneuver a close division win. The edge only goes to the Rams with their defense. Sean McVay has built the Rams to play close, low-scoring games in December which will be huge against the high octane Cardinals offense. With Ramsey focusing on Hopkins, Murray’s offense becomes much more limited. If Los Angeles can effectively spy Murray, create pressure with Aaron Donald, and score at least 20 points, they will come out ahead on Sunday,
Final Score: Los Angeles Rams 20, Arizona Cardinals 17
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images