The Los Angeles Rams will look to build off their dominating performance on Monday night when they come home to host the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. The game will kick off at 4:05 EST on Sunday, September 16, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Fans can watch the game in local markets on Fox.
Oddsmakers list the Rams as 13-point favorites at home. The over/under is set at 45 points. Click here to see a full list of the Week 2 NFL odds.
As mentioned, the Rams were outstanding in Week 1 against the Raiders. They trailed at halftime but then went on to score the final 23 points of the game, including a pick-six from Marcus Peters late in the 4th quarter to cap off a 33-13 win. Many view the Rams as perhaps the best team in the NFL, and they certainly looked the part for large stretches on Monday night.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, were one of the most disappointing teams in Week 1. Arizona hosted the Redskins in a virtual tossup game but fell completely flat on their face in a 24-6 loss. The Cardinals were out-gained by over 200 yards and if not for a David Johnson touchdown late in the 4th quarter they would have been shut out. The silver lining for Arizona is that it’ll be tough to be any worse than that.
As division rivals, these two teams saw each other twice last season with the Rams winning both meetings. When the Cardinals traveled to the L.A. Coliseum, the Rams won 33-0. They followed that up with a 32-16 win in the desert a few weeks later, so clearly there’s a gap between these two teams the Cardinals hope they can close on Sunday.
I searched high and low for reasons to avoid swallowing 13 points in this game, but I struggled to find any. I can’t ignore that the Rams looked like one of the best teams in the NFL last week while the Cardinals looked like one of the worst. I have to think the Cardinals will be a little better this week. But going on the road against a juggernaut like the Rams won’t be easy. I don’t love doing this, but I’ll swallow the points and lean toward the Rams to cover.
Arizona’s biggest problem has to be their offense after just a dreadful performance by Sam Bradford. The Cardinals signed Bradford to be a steady performer at quarterback. But he was anything but that against a Washington defense that doesn’t project to be anything special. Outside of seven catches for Larry Fitzgerald and a few short passes to Johnson, Arizona’s passing game was non-existent. Bradford throwing a pick and losing a fumble didn’t help either.
Against the Rams, it’s hard to see things getting much better. The Rams only had one sack against Oakland in their opener, but they picked off Derek Carr three times and scored a defensive touchdown. With the talent they have in both the secondary and along the defensive line, the Rams have the ability to cause a lot of problems for Bradford, especially with the home crowd behind them. I would expect Johnson running the ball to give Bradford some support, but he gained just 37 yards on nine carries last week and there’s no guarantee he’ll get it going against such a stout defensive front.
Despite all of their problems on offense, Arizona’s defense may have been a bigger disappointment. The defense was supposed to be the strength of the team, but it didn’t look like that against Washington. The run defense was particularly poor. Washington’s longest run was 17 yards and yet the Redskins managed to rack up 182 total yards on the ground. That kind of run defense could be disastrous against Todd Gurley and the Rams this week.
For Gurley and the Los Angeles offense, it was business as usual last week, as the Rams picked up where they left off in 2017. You can nitpick by mentioning that the L.A. offense only had two touchdowns while they settled for five field goal attempts. But that’s not a huge concern for a team that didn’t turn the ball over, only allowed one sack, and managed to stay relatively balanced between the run and the pass.
I would expect more of the same when they play the Cardinals. Arizona’s pass rush is a potential problem, as the Cards had three sacks last week. But as long as Gurley has success on the ground, the pass rush should be neutralized.
All things considered, it’s tough to envision the Cardinals hanging around in this game for a full 60 minutes. The Rams had a sluggish start last week and still managed to win by a comfortable margin. With all of the flaws the Cardinals exhibited last week, I see a similar storyline unfolding this week. Again, I don’t like doing this, but I’m comfortable swallowing the points and leaning toward the Rams in Week 2.