Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Rams look forward to the return of lead back Kyren Williams but have questions about the status of star receivers Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua.
- Arizona has had two games since the return of Kyler Murray that were on the cusp of becoming shootouts but stalled out a bit in the second half.
- The Rams are still in the NFC playoff hunt if they can “take care of business” against the easier teams on their remaining schedule.
- The Cardinals have a 2-9 record, but are still giving every week their full effort in all capacities as they try to evaluate whether Kyler Murray is their long-term answer at quarterback.
- Both defenses rank in the league’s bottom half against both the run and the pass.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams have played only two games at “full strength” on offense due to Cooper Kupp missing the first four games of the season and Kyren Williams missing Weeks 7 through 11. Hopefully, this week will be the third time for them to have all their weapons, although that will depend largely on the status of Kupp’s ankle after he injured it in the first half of Week 11 and didn’t return to the game. Kupp was on the sideline with his helmet on in the second half of that game and has practiced in a limited capacity this week, which provides some hope that he will be available. Still, given his recent injury history, it is hard to say whether that will lead to him being active and, if so, how effective he will be. The Rams were able to squeak out of Week 11 with a one-point win over the Seahawks and stay in the NFC playoff picture despite a 4-6 record.
Ironically, one of the two games the Rams had all their weapons also came against the Cardinals in Week 6 when Los Angeles pulled off a convincing 26-9 victory. Arizona now has Kyler Murray at quarterback and should provide a greater offensive threat. Still, the Rams were able to move the ball well in that game, primarily with Williams and Kupp combining for over 300 yards from scrimmage. Williams has missed the last four games but previously operated as the team’s workhorse. Head coach Sean McVay prefers to have a “bell cow” running back, and the team’s scheme is built around their running game concepts, so the return of Williams can’t be understated. The Rams offense struggled a lot in the first half the last time these teams met and it was their commitment to running the ball early in the second half that opened things up. I would expect the Rams to learn from that game and develop a balanced, run-leaning approach. The Cardinals rank 29th against both the run and the pass, and the Rams are likely to appreciate a reasonable running threat after playing a few weeks without it. Cooper Kupp (if healthy) and Puka Nacua will again be the primary receiving weapons. Still, the Rams offense will be back “on schedule” this week as they play in the way they are designed to operate rather than being a predictable pass-heavy offense with an inefficient running game.