NFL · Mon (1/17) @ 8:17pm ET
|SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California|
The Arizona Cardinals and L.A. Rams will clash at SoFi Stadium on Monday Night Football to close out the NFL Wildcard Playoff round.
Arizona Cardinals (11-6, 10-7 ATS) at LA Rams (12-5, 8-9)
Time: 8:15 p.m. EST
Line: Rams -4 (49)
The skinny: The game will be the first wild-card event played on a Monday since 1988, when Minnesota beat the visiting Rams.
Facts: The teams split their two games this season, with the visitors winning as an underdog both times — Arizona in Week 4, 37-20, amid its 7-0 start — and in Week 14 L.A. prevailed 30-23 during its five-game winning streak.
The Cardinals blew a chance to win the NFC West title last week, losing at home 38-30 to going-nowhere Seattle. Arizona gave up 202 rushing yards to the Seahawks, it’s worst defensive performance of the season.
The Rams, meanwhile, blew a 17-0 lead to San Francisco and lost 27-24 in OT. It was the biggest blown edge in defeat for any home team this season.
Despite the star power at QB for both teams, Arizona’s Kyler Murray has struggled since that dazzling start to the season with the Cardinals going 1-4 down the stretch. L.A.’s Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, is tied for the league lead with 17 INTs this season, including a league-high four pick-sixes.
The Cardinals might not mind playing on the road, where they have a league-best 8-1 mark this season. They were only 3-5 at home in the desert, tied for the worst home record among playoff teams.
Analysis: Over the past two weeks, the Cardinals have settled too many times for field goals while deep in enemy territory. Three times vs. Seattle’s 28th-ranked defense, drives stalled inside the 25. A week earlier vs. Dallas, Arizona kicked field goals twice after getting inside the 10. And last week’s loss to Seattle was a little harsher than the score might indicate, for the Cardinals scored on a fumble return and another turnover to set up Murray and Co. at the Seahawks 1. It took them only two plays to reach the end zone.
Even in the Cardinals’ 30-23 loss to the Rams four weeks ago, Murray did throw for a Week 14-high 383 yards, but his passer rating was only 72.1, third lowest for any passer with 300-plus yards this year. And, no, star WR DeAndre Hopkins (knee) won’t be returning this week. Maybe next week, or the week after if the Cardinals are still alive.
Arizona’s running game is also the feeling the pain from injuries to RBs Chase Edmonds (ribs) and James Conner (ribs/heel). Both are listed as questionable.
The Rams have an injury concern of their own with Stafford, who injured a toe last week. He didn’t show off that toe to the media like Aaron Rodgers, so no further details.
But anyway, this time the Rams will actually have a home-fan edge after noisy 49ers rooters made it hard for Stafford and his offense to hear signals last week.
Cardinals at Rams Pick
Rams 30, Cardinals 19
Last week: 5-8 ATS, 8-5 SU
Season total: 125-131 (.488) ATS, 159-99-1 (.617) SU