This week the Rams will travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals as the NFC West division leaders. The Cardinals were blown out last week against the Buffalo Bills while the Rams pulled out a tight victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Us at Downtown Rams will focus on three key matchups that could and likely will decide this game.
Rams Defensive Line VS Cardinals Offensive Line
Once again one of our key matchups is the Rams DLine vs the Cardinals OLine. The battle in the trenches will likely have a big impact on who wins this game as it normally does in most NFL games. The Cardinals were shredded last week against the Bills DLine and this week will not allow the Cardinals a breath as the Rams boast one of the best in the league. However, the Rams will likely be without LE, William Hayes but the Rams front is set apart by RE Robert Quinn and do it all DT Aaron Donald. If the Rams can harass Carson Palmer Sunday then the secondary could feast on errant throws by Palmer. With the addition of EJ Gaines back from injury, the secondary may provide a few extra seconds of coverage allowing the line to reach Palmer as well. If the Cardinals can get push on the front of the Rams it could be a long day for both the secondary against the loaded receiving group of the Cardinals and undersized LB group as that will likely lead to David Johnson running wild.
David Johnson VS Todd Gurley
Usually a RB matchup will be against a LB group or player but this weeks contest boasts possibly the top two RBs in all of football. Johnson has been a bright spot for the Cardinals stalling offense while Gurley has had a tough go of it to start the season. Both of these backs have had success in this matchup and both could certainly be the feature this weekend. All in all, whichever RB gets going first could ultimately win this game for their respective teams and both will depend on their offensive lines to create holes for them. The Rams have had a decent run defense this season while the Cardinals run defense has been gashed the past couple of weeks. Based on last years numbers however, don’t expect the Cardinals to get worse but rather better at stuffing the run. The Rams will hope this won’t be the week as they look to get Gurley his first triple digit yard total of the year.
Rams Special Teams Unit VS Cardinals Special Teams Unit
One aspect of the game that is rarely featured on key matchups is the special teams units of each team. This week however, I believe they will be pivotal in both field position and scoring. The Rams feature one of, if not, the best special teams units in the NFL and the Cardinals will be breaking in a new punter as Drew Butler has already been ruled out by the Cardinals injury report. Along with a new punter, the Cards will also have a new long snapper after miscues caused them to cut their former. This could be the largest advantage the Rams have this weekend and with Tavon Austin returning punts it could lead to points. With every game in the NFC West, field position is always key and I expect the Rams to win this facet of the game by a large margin.
All in all, these matchups are all tied together and whichever team can win these matchups they will more than likely take home the victory. This could be a new experience for the Rams as they could reach 3-1 for the first time under Jeff Fisher or it could be their classic let down game after a big win. The Cardinals will definitely be fired up after getting shalacked last week and would enjoy nothing else than to blow out the Rams.