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Matchups Week 3: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals

Rams Cardinals
Sep 18, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass in the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1) 

Opening Line: Cardinals +4.

Total at Opening: 51.

Opening Team Totals: Cardinals (23.5), Rams (27.5)

Weather: Dome.

The Line Report

  • This line opened as Cardinals +4.
  • This line has moved slightly down to Cardinals +3.5 as of Thursday evening.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Cardinals +3.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Cardinals +3.5.
  • This total opened at 51 points.
  • This total has moved down to 49.5 points as of Thursday evening.

Notable Injuries

Cardinals: RB James Conner (Questionable), WR Rondale Moore (Questionable), Edge J.J. Watt (Questionable).

Rams: WR Van Jefferson (Questionable), C Brian Allen (Questionable), CB David Long (Questionable).

The Cardinals Offense vs. the Rams Defense

The simple truth of the matter is that no one is well-equipped to deal with the historic talent that is Aaron Donald. Aside from that mismatch, Rams edge Leonard Floyd is a good player, but the rest of the Rams front is underwhelming. Factor in Kyler Murray’s ability to extend plays, and we can treat this trench matchup as a relative stalemate from a macro sense. We can do that while acknowledging that Aaron Donald is a rare defender that is capable of wrecking any game.

Notes and Observations

  • The Cardinals are 1-1 against the spread this season.
  • The Cardinals are 1-0-1 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Kyler Murray is 18th in the league in passing yards and seventh in rushing among quarterbacks.
  • The Rams have started the season against two mobile quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Marcus Mariota. Los Angeles has given up the third most rushing yards (76) to quarterbacks this season.
  • Cardinals running back James Conner did not finish last week’s contest and is currently considered a game-time decision. In Conner’s absence, Darrell Williams and Eno Benjamin roughly split running back duties.
  • The Rams have allowed the tenth-fewest rushing yards and the seventh-fewest receiving yards to running backs this season.
  • Perhaps this is a sneaky spike game opportunity for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, as the Rams have given up the third most receiving yards on the fourth most receptions to wide receivers this season.
  • With Deandre Hopkins suspended and Rondale Moore sidelined, Greg Dortch has stepped up, catching 11-of-13 targets for 118 yards and a score this season.
  • The Rams have shut down enemy tight ends, allowing the second-fewest yards on the second fewest receptions at the position.
  • Tight end Zach Ertz is second on the Cardinals in target share (18.3%) behind only Hollywood Brown.

The Rams Offense vs. the Cardinals Defense

After a brutal opening night against Buffalo, the Rams offensive line fared far better against a weaker front in Atlanta. Los Angeles has a similarly soft trench matchup against Arizona this week, to the point they will have an edge in that phase if J.J. Watt is limited.

Notes and Observations

  • The Rams are 0-2 against the spread this season.
  • The Rams are 1-1 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Matthew Stafford is currently 13th in the league in passing yards.
  • On opening night Darrell Henderson took on the bulk of the opportunities against Buffalo. In Atlanta last week there was a much more even split between Henderson and Cam Akers, with Akers actually leading in carries (15 to 10) and targets (3 to 0).
  • The Cardinals have allowed the 12th most rushing yards and the ninth most receiving yards to running backs this season.
  • Arizona has given up the 15th most receiving yards on the tenth most receptions to wide receivers this season.
  • Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp has gotten to the point where sportsbooks set his receptions line at 8.5 and his receiving yards line at 98.5 yards. Kupp leads the league in receptions (24) and target share (38.7%) with a 46.6% team air yards share and an exceptional 2.84 yards per route run.
  • After being a non-factor on opening night, Allen Robinson caught 4-of-5 targets for 53 yards and a score in Atlanta last week.
  • Among tight ends, Tyler Higbee is second in the league in target share (26.7%) and third in receptions (12). Higbee’s ADOT is 3.7, and his team air yards share is 16.3%.
  • The Cardinals have allowed the most receiving yards and the most receptions to tight ends this season. They’ve also faced Travis Kelce and Darren Waller in the first two games.

This is What You’re Betting On in Cardinals vs. Rams

The Cardinals and Rams split last year, with each team winning on the road.

A bet on the Cardinals is a bet on Kyler Murray carrying this offense much like he did in Arizona’s come-from-behind win against the Raiders last week. Outside of linebacker and safety, Arizona’s defense is below average everywhere else. If you’re betting on the Cardinals, you also need their defense to at least somewhat mitigate a high-caliber Rams offense.

A bet on the Rams is a bet on the defending champs continuing to get back to business after their blowout loss on opening night. It’s a bet on Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson beating up one of the league’s worst cornerback groups. The presence of Aaron Donald and his ability to single-handedly alter games is not something that we should count on when considering a Rams bet, but it’s always on the table. Arizona’s wide receiver group has been significantly reduced by Rondale Moore’s injury and Deandre Hopkins’ suspension. In other words, Arizona’s primary strength is their passing attack and that has been greatly reduced.

Awards Market Ramifications: Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford are fringe MVP candidates. Cooper Kupp is an Offensive Player of the Year contender. Aaron Donald is a Defensive Player of the Year contender.

Winner/ Confidence Pool: Taking Kyler Murray when his Cardinals are an underdog in winner pools is something that I always consider. That said, I expect to go with the Rams here and rank them towards the bottom of the middle in confidence pools.

Spread Pool: I wasn’t considering the Rams as an option in any of my tournament entries until I wrote this matchups column. I’m not locking them in yet but I am now considering the Rams.

Survivor: This game should be avoided for survivor purposes.

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