The Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams will both be trying to punch their respective tickets to the NFL playoffs on Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium. Both teams might possibly be leaning on backup quarterbacks as Kyler Murray and Jared Goff are dealing with injuries.
In regards to the playoff picture, the Rams need to beat Arizona or hope that the Chicago Bears lose or tie against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Cardinals need to defeat the Rams to get into the NFL’s postseason tournament.
Last week, Arizona (8-7) saw their two-game winning streak snapped as they lost 20-12 to the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals’ defense struggled to slow down 49ers starting quarterback C.J. Beathard and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. Beathard completed 13-of-22 passes for 182 yards, and three touchdowns. Two of Beathard’s touchdown passes went All-Pro fullback Kyle Juszczyk. On the ground, Wilson had a game-high 183 yards on 22 carries, along with a 21-yard touchdown reception.
Offensively, the Cardinals only mustered one touchdown, which came from Kenyan Drake, who had 45 yards on 18 carries. Murray was 31-of-50 for 247 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. He also led the team in rushing yards with 75 on eight carries. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is hopeful to have the second-year quarterback on Sunday. If Murray can’t play, then backup Chris Streveler will likely get the start.
As for the Rams, they lost 20-9 on the road to the Seattle Seahawks, extending their losing streak to two games. Rams quarterback Jared Goff struggled, completing 24-of-43 passes for 234 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. He also suffered a broken right thumb, which will put him out of Sunday’s game. Therefore, head coach Sean McVay will turn the reins over to backup quarterback John Wolford, who has never played a single snap in the NFL.
If that’s the case, then the Rams will need better production from their running game than they got in Week 16. Against the Seahawks, Darrell Henderson Jr. ran the ball well, 62 yards on 12 carries, however, Malcolm Brown only recorded 27 yards on seven carries.
Date: Sunday, Jan. 3
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Cardinals: #14 Overall — #20 offense, #10 defense, #19 special teams
Rams: #8 Overall — #8 offense, #5 defense, #30 special teams
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Kenyan Drake, RB, $5,400
If Murray cannot play on Sunday, it will be up to the Cardinals’ running game led by Kenyan Drake to lead them to victory. The last time Arizona played the Rams, Drake had 49 rushing yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. At the time, it was also the third-straight game where Drake recorded a rushing touchdown. In Arizona’s last five games, the veteran running back has produced five touchdowns, while averaging 55.6 yards per game.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, $7,900
Cardinals superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will likely draw Rams superstar Jalen Ramsey in coverage on Sunday. However, that should not deter Murray or Streveler from throwing towards Hopkins’ way. In the Cardinals’ last four games, Hopkins has 34 receptions (47 targets) for 405 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also averaging 12.6 fantasy points per game, over that same amount of time. This week, Hopkins will be facing a Rams’ defense that hasn’t allowed a wide receiver to score a touchdown since Week 13.
Robert Woods, WR, $6,300
With uncertainty at running back, the best bet for the Rams might be to throw the ball a lot and use Robert Woods frequently in the running game. Last week against the Seahawks, Woods only had four receptions (nine targets) for 48 yards. However, in Los Angeles’ Week 13 win against the Cardinals, the veteran wideout recorded 10 receptions (11 targets) for 85 yards. Los Angeles will need that type of production on Sunday against a Cardinals’ defense that did not give up a single touchdown to a wide receiver last week.
Cooper Kupp, WR, $6,100
Unlike Woods, who has scored six receiving touchdowns this season, Cooper Kupp has only scored three touchdowns. The 27-year-old wideout last scored a touchdown in Week 14 against the New England Patriots. But in the Rams’ last two games, he has not scored a touchdown, despite producing 13 receptions (14 targets) for 105 yards. Since we do not know what to expect from Wolford, Kupp is likely a low-end WR2/WR3 play this week.