Rams Vs. Cardinals Week 14 Preview: Pivotal Battle For NFC West Supremacy On Monday Night Football

Originally published by RamsNewswire.com

Week 14 represents perhaps the most important games for the Los Angeles Rams during the 2021 season as they take on the NFL-best Arizona Cardinals in a showdown that could have playoff implications.

The Cardinals got the best of the Rams at SoFi Stadium, so Los Angeles will be looking for revenge though it will be their toughest test yet as Kyler Murray is healthy and looking like the MVP candidate he was touted before suffering an ankle injury.

Rams Offense vs. Cardinals Defense

The last time these two teams met, Los Angeles found it difficult to move the chains against what has been one of the stingiest passing defenses in the league. Head coach Sean McVay has a reputation for wanting to throw the football, and while he and Matthew Stafford are more than happy to sling it downfield the script for Monday Night Football might need to mirror their Week 13 showing against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Against the Jaguars, Los Angeles heavily featured Sony Michel and the rushing attack and that would be an effective way to attack the Arizona defense who are actually fairly poor against runners. Riding Michel might be McVay’s only option anyway considering Darrell Henderson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and is out against the Cardinals. L.A. signed running back Mekhi Sargent this past week but he is widely expected to only spell Michel which means the former New England Patriot will get another chance to handle a workhorse load.

Michel should be the focal point of the offensive game plan, but Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. will need to step up as the Cardinals will surely do their best to try and limit Cooper Kupp as much as possible. Stafford will also be looking to build off his strong performance last week where he did not turn the ball over.

The Rams will also be without tackle Rob Havenstein and defensive back Dont’e Deayon due to the health and safety protocols, so they will be short-handed in this one.

Rams Defense vs. Cardinals Offense

The Rams defense has been prone to giving up big plays and they did that several times previously against the Cardinals. Preventing/limiting explosive plays remains the focus for Raheem Morris, but he and his unit will have their work cut out for them as they try to contain Murray who is a threat passing or running with the football.

Arizona not only got Murray back last week, but they also saw the return of DeAndre Hopkins who missed several weeks with a hamstring injury. Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey will face off again in what has become one of the NFL’s premier wide receiver-cornerback duels and it will be a fun matchup to watch throughout the night.

The Cardinals will also be getting back Chase Edmonds who spent time on the injured reserve list with a high-ankle sprain. The duo of James Connor and Edmonds is a formidable one, and the Rams defensive front will need to be disciplined in both the run and passing games.

Von Miller has steadily improved week-to-week since being traded to the Rams and he will need to bring some heat off the edge in order to make Murray and the rest of their offense uncomfortable.

Keys To Victory

1. Stop the Cardinals running game

In Week 4, the Cardinals gashed the Rams on the ground to the tune of 218 yards and two touchdowns. Simply put, that can not happen again which means L.A. will need to be more stout up front. Fortunately, this time around they will have Miller and Justin Hollins who has missed the past few months after suffering a pec injury in Week 3. Both linebackers should be able to help bottle up the Arizona backs and force the rest of that offense into passing-down situations.

2. Feed Sony Michel

Michel showed McVay last week that he is the physical north-south runner the Rams offense has been missing and they will need his hard running style to slow down the Cardinals. McVay showed he was willing to adjust his offensive scheme to be more run heavy, and giving Arizona a taste of their own medicine from their previous matchup only seems right.

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