Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams - Monday Night Football Preview

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams - Monday Night Football Preview

The Cardinals and the Rams will fight for a place in the divisional round when they meet at SoFi Stadium on Monday night. Which team will advance?

Game Details

Date: Monday, January 17, at 8.15pm EST

TV: ESPN

Location: SoFi Stadium

Weather: Warm, partly cloudy, with 3mph wind

An Elimination Battle

The Rams finished top of the NFC West with a 12-5 record after losing to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18. Los Angeles ended up as the No. 4 seed overall.

The Cardinals (11-6) ended second in the ultra-competitive division, despite losing 38-30 to the Seahawks on Sunday. The 49ers finished third, and they also reached the playoffs. Unibet is offering +500 on the NFC West yielding the Super Bowl winner, which could be tempting, but either the Cards or the Rams will crash out in the wild card round.

Two Inconsistent Teams

The Cardinals emerged as genuine Super Bowl contenders after going 7-0 at the start of the season. They swept their rivals aside, scoring more than 30 points in six of their opening seven games. However, the Cards ran out of steam in the second half of the regular season. 

They limped into the playoffs, despite going 1-4 in their final five games, and they must somehow find a way to rediscover the intensity and dynamism they displayed in the fall. One encouraging stat for Arizona fans is the team’s magnificent away record: the Cards were 3-5 straight-up at home, but they went 8-1 on the road. That could bode well for a trip to the SoFi Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl on February 13.

The Rams were 2-4 at the start of the season, but a run of five straight wins put them back into contention. Los Angeles was the No. 2 seed going into Week 18, but it slipped down to No. 4 after that defeat to the Niners. The Rams led 17-3 at half-time, but they capitulated after the break. The game went into overtime and the 49ers grabbed a 27-24 victory, ensuring they clinched a wild card berth. It was the first time the Rams had squandered a half-time in the Sean McVay era.

Head-to-Heads

The Cardinals beat the Rams 37-20 at SoFi Stadium when these teams met in Week 4. Kyler Murray threw 24-for-32 for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Chase Edmonds rushed for 120 yards off just 12 carries, while James Connor added two rushing TDs. Matthew Stafford had a reasonably strong game for the Rams, throwing 26-for-41 for 280 yards, two TDs and an interception, but they could not deal with Arizona’s rampant offense.

The tables were turned when the teams renewed hostilities in Glendale in Week 14, with the Rams winning 30-23. Stafford had another impressive game, throwing 23-for-30 for 287 yards and three TDs, while Sony Michel also impressed. Murray managed 383 passing yards, but he threw two interceptions in the seven-point defeat. The Rams have now won nine of the last 10 matchups between the two teams.

Stafford’s form is the most pressing concern for the Rams as they head into the playoffs. He has thrown three interceptions in his last three games, and that lack of ball security is worrying. Yet the offense is still productive, and it will be fascinating to see if it can outscore the Cardinals again.

Team News

The Cardinals’ star wideout DeAndre Hopkins suffered a nasty knee injury in the closing stages of his team’s defeat to the Rams in Week 14. He required surgery for a torn MCL and he was placed on injured reserve, missing the remainder of the regular season. The Cards averaged just 20.8 points per game without him between Weeks 15 and 18. There is a chance that Hopkins could return in time to face the Rams, but he is unlikely to be 100% fit.

The Rams will be missing their leading tackler, Jordan Fuller, who needs surgery on an ankle injury. Fuller has managed 113 tackles and an interception this year, and he is fourth in terms of total snaps played for Los Angeles. Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess are the leading candidates to replace him.

Key Stats

  • The Cardinals were 8-1 straight-up and ATS on the road in the regular season.
  • The Rams were 5-3 straight up at home, compared to 7-2 on the road.
  • Arizona was 10-7 ATS in the regular season, and 4-4 ATS at home.
  • The Rams are 8-9 ATS for the season so far.
  • The Rams at 4-7 ATS when playing as the favorites.
  • The Cardinals are 6-0 ATS as the underdog.
  • The Rams averaged 27.1 points per game, compared to 26.4 for Arizona.
  • The Cardinals allow 21.5 points per game and the Rams allow 21.9.

Betting Odds

The Rams opened as the 4-point favorite to beat the Cardinals in this game. The line drifted out to 4.5 points, but you can now find -110 on the Cardinals +4 and -110 on the Rams -4 at Caesars Sportsbook. BetMGM has -105 on the Cardinals +4, while FanDuel has -108 on the Rams -4. BetMGM also stands out by offering -110 on the Cardinals +4.5. DraftKings and FanDuel have -115 on the Rams -3.5.

Los Angeles is the clear moneyline favorite, best priced at just -190 with DraftKings. BetMGM and Caesars have +170 on the Cards. The total points line has been set at 49.5, as both regular season meetings between the teams surpassed that target.

Picks

The Rams deserve their status as favorites for this game, despite Arizona’s magnificent away record. The team boasts superstars like Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald,Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey, and it has a better coach. Arizona is coming off a run of four defeats in its last five games. The offense has struggled in the absence of Hopkins, and the Rams have a better defense.

However, it could ultimately result in a narrow win for the Rams, so Arizona +4.5 at -110 with BetMGM looks appealing. Over 49.5 points is also a tempting bet, and any prop bets on Stafford throwing interceptions will also prove popular given his lack of security right now.

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