Game: Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Odds: Cardinals +3.5, Rams -3.5
After a 7-0 start, the Arizona Cardinals cooled off and let their NFC West rivals, the Los Angeles Rams, catch them for the division title. The Rams would win five straight games before losing to the 49ers to end the season while the Cardinals struggled and lost four of their final five. Now, the two teams will meet in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.
As division opponents, the two teams played each other twice this season. The road team won both games. Despite that, the Rams opened as a 4.5-point favorite. Action on the Cardinals has pushed the line down to 3.5. The Rams have won nine of the last ten games against Arizona and they are 8-1-1 ATS in those ten games.
While the Rams won five in a row before their season-ending loss, the Cardinals were busy doing something that only eight teams before them have ever done – win eight road games in a season. Arizona has done well on the road this season (8-1) with wins at Tennessee and Dallas as well as the earlier win at SoFi Stadium, the site of tonight’s game.
The key for Arizona in that first game at SoFi was a running game that put up 216 yards on the Rams. Chase Edmonds ran for 120 yards in that game to lead the Cardinals. This season, Arizona is averaging 122 rushing yards per game using a trio of capable runners – Edmonds, James Conner, and quarterback Kyler Murray.
In other good news for the Cardinals, DE J.J. Watt has been upgraded to probable for tonight’s game. Watt has missed the last 10 games and in those games Arizona went 4-6. In the seven games that Watt played, the Cardinals were 7-0. Watt being on the field could present some problems for the Rams offense and QB Matthew Stafford.
Stafford was the NFL’s best quarterback from Week 1 through Week 9. Since then, Stafford has been off his game. He has thrown a league-high 11 interceptions since Week 9. That gave him 17 for the season, which tied for the most in the NFL. Also, four of his last 11 picks were returned for touchdowns.
That’s not to say Stafford can’t lead the Rams to a win. He did set a franchise record with 4,886 passing yards and he was second to Tom Brady in touchdown passes with 41. Stafford also threw to the league’s best wide receiver this season – Cooper Kupp. Kupp led the NFL with 1,947 receiving yards. The pair will have to hook up tonight and make some plays for the Rams to be successful.
As the Cardinals struggled down the stretch this season, they were not very good against the number either. Arizona was 1-4 ATS in its final five games. The Rams were 4-2 ATS in their last six games. The Cardinals, however, are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games on the road.