The Los Angeles Rams will try to snap out of their two-game skid when they visit the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 EST on Sunday, December 23, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Fans in local markets can watch the game on Fox.
The Rams are currently favored by 14 points on the road. The over/under is set at 44.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 16 betting odds and game previews.
After winning 11 of their first 12 games, the Rams have suddenly dropped two in a row, losing to the Bears on the road and the Eagles at home. Those losses have likely cost the Rams their chance at earning the top seed in the NFC playoffs unless the Saints lose both of their remaining games. Even L.A.’s hold on a first-round bye could be in danger if they don’t break out of their mini-slump. Fortunately for the Rams, they finish their season with games against two of the worst teams in the NFL, the Cardinals and 49ers. As long as the Rams can win both of those games, they will earn a first-round bye.
As for the Cardinals, their season continues to go downhill. Despite a surprising win over the Packers earlier this month, Arizona has lost in lopsided fashion each of the past two weeks. At 3-11, the Cardinals are currently in line for the top overall pick in next year’s draft. Unless they can knock off the Rams or Seahawks during the final two weeks, Arizona will at least tie for the worst record in the NFL this season. That should help prevent the Cardinals from mailing it in during the final two weeks.
When these teams met back in Week 2, the Rams dominated on their way to a 34-0 win. In that game, Arizona managed just 137 total yards and five first downs. Of course, that game was before the Cardinals made the switch to Josh Rosen at quarterback. This will be the rookie’s first time facing this year’s NFC West champions.
Are the Rams in a little bit of trouble in the bigger picture? Maybe, but they should find a way to get back on track this week against Arizona. In fairness, the Cardinals have managed to beat the spread against some good teams this season. However, losses the last two weeks should give the Rams a sense of urgency, which should allow them to blow out the Cardinals and cover the spread.
For what it’s worth, the Rams have some growing concerns on offense. They don’t appear to be the same team since Cooper Kupp was lost to injury. Todd Gurley is questionable to play Sunday because of a knee injury. Finally, Jared Goff has just one touchdown pass against six interceptions over his last three games. Those are some real concerns for the L.A. offense, despite scoring a respectable 23 points last week against the Eagles.
While we can’t ignore these concerns, it must be pointed out that the Arizona defense has just as many shortcomings. While the Cardinals have had a few solid defensive performances this season, they’ve also conceded 40 or more points on three occasions. Last week, Arizona gave up 40 points to an Atlanta offense going through an extended slump. They gave up over 200 rushing yards to a bad running team, which doesn’t bode well against the Rams, even if Gurley doesn’t play.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals have seen little progress from Rosen. Things got so bad for Rosen last week that he was benched in favor of Mike Glennon. There’s no reason for the Cardinals to keep Rosen on the sidelines and deprive him of valuable snaps. But that doesn’t mean Rosen is going to play any better this week. In fact, it’s unlikely we’ll see a sudden improvement in his game at this point of the season.
If there’s a weakness the Cardinals may be able to exploit, it’s the Los Angeles run defense. The Rams have been vulnerable on the ground, giving up five yards per carry this season. However, the Arizona offense was in a similar situation against Atlanta’s porous run defense and couldn’t take advantage. With Rosen struggling as he has, the Rams should be able to load the box against the run and take their chances against Rosen.
It’s also worth noting that the Cardinals yielded seven sacks last week against a bad Atlanta defense. That will be something to watch this week. The Rams have several players capable of getting after the quarterback, most notably Aaron Donald, who has 16.5 sacks on the season. If the Cardinals keep Rosen protected, their offense will continue to flounder, making it easier for the Rams to cover the spread.
Ultimately, the Rams should be able to get their offense going against a poor Arizona defense. One way or another, they’ll put points on the board. Even against a Los Angeles defense that has some problems, I don’t see Rosen and the Cardinals keeping up. Despite a two-touchdown spread to cover, I feel comfortable leaning toward the Rams.