Monday Night Football Week 14 Preview and Prediction: Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams

NFL Expert, Ben Gretch shares his play for Monday Night Football between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
Ben Gretch |
Sun, December 12, 8:23 AM EST | 4 min read
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Monday Night Football Week 14 Preview and Prediction: Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams

Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Monday, December 13, 2021

Game Time: 8:15 PM ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

  • Key Stat: In his return after missing all of November with an ankle injury, Kyler Murray rushed a season-high 10 times for 59 yards and two scores last week, while throwing for a season-high 10.9 adjusted yards per attempt

Click Here For Cardinals vs Rams Odds

Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals Prediction

Having snapped a three-game skid with their biggest win of the year last week, the Rams head to Arizona for a massive NFC West matchup that could all but decide the division if the Cardinals defend home field. Arizona currently sits two games up on the Rams, and beat them in Los Angeles back in Week 4, so a win here would move the Cardinals to three games up with a lock on the tiebreaker. A win for the Rams, meanwhile, would narrow the gap to one game with four to play.

The Rams looked the best they have in over a month last week in their dismantling of the Jaguars, dominating on both sides of the ball en route to a 37-7 win. The Cardinals welcomed back Kyler Murray after missing the entire month of November, and they too got a win, 33-22, over the Bears. Chicago scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion in the final minutes to make that game look a little closer than it was.

Murray looked good in his return, although Andy Dalton’s four interceptions routinely set Arizona up with short fields. They certainly took advantage, but by the end of the game they had run just 51 offensive plays and gained just 257 total yards. Typically, numbers like that are indicative of a poor offensive game, but the Cardinals scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives, and moved the ball just fine throughout.

Murray only wound up throwing 15 times all game, but he looked comfortable, posting a season high in adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) while also running a season-high 10 times, including for two scores on the ground to match his two through the air. Though Arizona had a lower-volume offensive game overall, they showed what you’d want to see in what was more or less a tune up before this major divisional game with the Rams. The overall play volume may have helped DeAndre Hopkins play a higher percentage of snaps, but it was also a positive sign to see him up at 74% snap share when he was reportedly going to be limited, not to mention the other positive sign that Murray and Hopkins connected for a 20-yard touchdown right away in the first five minutes of the game.

So Arizona returns home looking healthier than they have in some time. The Rams meanwhile are likely to be without starting center Brian Allen, their top-graded run blocker per PFF, while running back Darrell Henderson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, so he is out. Sony Michel filled in well for Henderson, and the running back position isn’t necessarily what drives this offense, but both players being out is less than ideal.

Then there’s the matter that their offense hasn’t had the same rhythm since Robert Woods’ injury and the addition of Odell Beckham. Beckham will likely be a solid piece for the Rams going into the playoffs, but he’s still reasonably new on the roster, and though he’s scored in back-to-back games, both touchdowns came in fourth quarters of games that were separated by at least two scores. He has just nine catches overall through three games, while second-year wide receiver Van Jefferson has had to step up some alongside Cooper Kupp.

Both of these teams are strong, but the Cardinals are only 2.5-point favorites at home, giving us the magic number of three if we’re on the favorites. That’s the way I’m playing it. The Rams’ defense has been better than the Cardinals’, especially over the past six weeks, but Kyler Murray has been playing at an elite level pretty much all season, and he's the deciding factor for me.

Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals Pick

  • Cardinals -2.5 (-110)
Ben Gretch
@YardsPerGretch

Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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