The Los Angeles Rams come into Week 3 with some momentum, as well as some injuries. The same can be said about the Arizona Cardinals, who the Rams are facing on the road today. Both teams won in dramatic fashion last week, and both of them could be without some key players at State Farm Stadium.
The Rams have already ruled out three of their top four cornerbacks. They’ll also be down their starting center and will have a third-string right guard starting. The Cardinals won’t have Rondale Moore, and James Conner will be a game-time decision.
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For an early-season game, there are plenty of storylines in this NFC West tilt. Yet, as banged up as the Rams are, they’re still favored over the Cardinals by 3.5 points. If history is any indication, the Rams should easily cover that spread and win comfortably, as they have in 10 of their last 11 meetings with the Cardinals.
But anything can happen on any given Sunday, and this won’t be an easy matchup. The Rams must contain Kyler Murray and limit the damage Marquise Brown can do on the outside. Murray is almost at his best when the play breaks down, allowing him to scramble and make plays on the run. His ability to extend plays is what makes him so difficult to defend, especially when you’re a cornerback trying to cover a wide receiver who can freelance on his route.
The Cardinals don’t have the same juice on defense that they once did, but Byron Murphy, J.J. Watt and Budda Baker are still there. It’s just that the pass rush is a bit weaker, especially now that Chandler Jones is out of the picture.
The Cardinals still probably have an advantage over a shorthanded Rams offensive line, but it’s not as if Los Angeles is facing a dominant front like the Bills’ in Week 1. They should be able to handle the task and give Matthew Stafford enough time in the pocket.
I like the Rams in this matchup, even with as many players as they’re missing. The biggest concern has to be the secondary covering Arizona’s receivers, but thankfully, the Cardinals will be without Moore and DeAndre Hopkins. That makes the challenge more manageable.
After finding some momentum last week against Atlanta, and with Arizona only looking good for one half all season, I’ll take the Rams to win at State Farm Stadium where they haven’t lost since 2014.
Final score prediction: Rams 24, Cardinals 20