NFL PREVIEWS |

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams Preview and Predictions 12-29-2019


Having won back-to-back NFC West titles the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Rams seemed unlikely candidates to fall victim to the Super Bowl hangover after losing to the New England Patriots in February. Yet, the Rams have nothing to play for except the chance to finish with a winning record when they host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.

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Los Angeles is the ninth team since 2000 to fail to make the playoffs after losing in the Super Bowl the previous season, its hopes doomed by back-to-back losses at Dallas and San Francisco. "We're going to finish this season off the right way," vowed Rams coach Sean McVay. "To be able to finish with a winning record, that's the next thing. You always have the playoffs, but that's out the window. Well hey, let's have some pride." The Cardinals fell out of contention during a six-game slide that included a 34-7 drubbing at home by Los Angeles, but they have a chance to match a season-high winning streak after knocking off Cleveland and Seattle the past two weeks. "I think it's pretty evident and easy to tell that as a whole we're just jelling better than we have all season," said rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the top overall pick in this year's draft.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Rams -7.5 O/U: 49

ABOUT THE CARDINALS (5-9-1): Arizona made what appeared to be a depth move by acquiring running back Kenyon Drake from Miami at the trade deadline, but he has been spectacular in the last two wins by rushing for a combined 303 yards and six touchdowns. Drake's emergence has eased the load on Murray, who has not passed for 200 yards in four of the past five games and has been limited in practice this week due to a hamstring injury. Larry Fitzgerald, who leads the teams in receptions (71) and yards (759), will be appearing in his 250th regular-season game amid speculation it could be his last. The Cardinals rank 31st against the pass, allowing 279.9 yards per game.

ABOUT THE RAMS (8-7): Jared Goff posted a season-best passer rating of 120.7 against Arizona on Dec. 1, throwing for 424 yards and two touchdowns, but he has tossed four interceptions over his last three games. Todd Gurley rushed for a pair of touchdowns in last week's last-second loss at San Francisco and has rushed for five scores in the last four games, including one against the Cardinals in which he ran for 95 yards on 19 carries. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp each have over 80 receptions and 1,000 yards while tight end Tyler Higbee has emerged as a vital cog in the passing game. Los Angeles is 22nd against the run (115.9 yards) but limited Drake to 31 yards on Dec. 1.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Higbee started a franchise-record stretch of four straight 100-yard games with seven catches for 107 yards and a TD versus Arizona.

2. Cardinals LB Chandler Jones had four sacks last week to boost his league-best total to 19.0.

3. Goff has a passer rating of 100-plus in his last three against Arizona.

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

SoFi Stadium
Inglewood, California, USA.
Capacity: 70,240

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Last Injuries

Los Angeles Rams

  • Andrew Whitworth

    Calf
    day-to-day | questionable

    Whitworth exited the last game due to a calf injury, and it is unclear if he will play Week 3 against the Bills.

  • Malcolm Brown

    Finger
    day-to-day | questionable

    Brown has a finger injury, and it is uncertain if he will be available Week 3 versus the Bills.

  • Cam Akers

    Ribs
    day-to-day | questionable

    Akers departed the last game with injured ribs, and it is unknown if he will suit up against the Bills in Week 3.

  • Joe Noteboom

    Calf
    day-to-day | questionable

    Noteboom left the previous game with an injured calf muscle, and his status for Week 3 versus the Bills is in question.

  • Gerald Everett

    Back
    Prob Sun | probable

    Everett left the last game with a back injury, but he is expected to play Sunday versus the Eagles.

  • Terrell Lewis

    Knee
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Lewis has landed on the Injured Reserve/Non-Football Injury list with a knee injury, and it is unknown when he will make his season debut.

  • Darrell Henderson Jr.

    Hamstring
    Prob Sun | probable

    Henderson is hobbled by a low-grade hamstring strain, but he is likely to be active Sunday against the Cowboys.

  • Taylor Rapp

    Knee
    Prob Sun | probable

    Rapp is dealing with a knee injury, but he is expected to play against the Cowboys in the season opener.

Arizona Cardinals

  • Maxx Williams

    Ankle
    day-to-day | questionable

    Williams sat out the previous with an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will face the Lions during Week 3.

  • Jalen Thompson

    Ankle
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Thompson has been designated for the injured reserve list due to an ankle injury. It is unknown when he will get back on the field.

  • Mason Cole

    Hamstring
    day-to-day | questionable

    Cole missed the previous game due to a hamstring injury, and it is unclear if he will play against the Lions in Week 3.

  • D.J. Humphries

    Lower Body
    Prob Sun | probable

    Humphries departed the previous game with a lower-body injury, but he is projected to line up against the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

  • Kylie Fitts

    Wrist
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Fitts has a wrist injury, and it has yet to be established if he will be in Sunday's lineup versus the Washington Football Team.

  • Josh Jones

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Jones missed the last game with an ankle injury, and it is unclear if he will suit up Sunday against the Washington Football Team.

  • KeeSean Johnson

    Personal
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Johnson has been ticketed for the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list, and it is unknown when he will return to action.

  • Maxx Williams

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Williams is nursing an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will be available against the 49ers on Sunday.