Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams Prediction 1/17/22

by | Jan 17, 2022 | nfl

Arizona Cardinals (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (12-5 SU, 8-9 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, January 16, 8:15 PM EST
Where: SoFi Stadium
TV: NBC
Point Spread: Ari +4 / LAR -4
Over/Under Total: 50

The LA Rams host their division rival Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs. BetOnline makes the Rams 4 point favorites and sets the over/under at 50. This is a toss-up game between 2 even teams, so let’s grab the 4 points and play the Cardinals. Here are three reasons.

Both Offenses Will Score

The Rams offense ranks 7th in the league in scoring offense while the Cardinals rank 11th. Both teams average more than 26 points per game, but what is most important in today’s NFL is that both of these offenses can pass. LA is 3rd in passing yards per attempt, and Arizona is 4th. They both have multiple receiving options that make it impossible for defenses to key on one guy. Matthew Stafford will lean on the NFL reception leader Cooper Kupp to get first downs or touchdowns but has also developed a rapport with Odell Beckham Jr., who has been clutch down the stretch. Kyler Murray probably won’t have DeAndre Hopkins again this week and has started leaning on Zach Ertz for the big plays while Hopkins recuperates. The passing games this week will ensure that neither team is ever out of the game.

Where the Cardinals offense has the advantage is in the running game. Neither of these teams particularly want to run, but Arizona can get tough yards on the ground when needed. They are 4th in the league in rushing touchdowns and 7th in converting 3rd downs, while LA is 28th with only ten rushing touchdowns on the year and only 13th on 3rd down. Sony Michel has recently become the lead back for LA that has improved LA’s running efficiency, but Arizona’s James Conner is much more capable of picking up the tough yards. I look for this to be a track meet and Arizona’s offense to have no trouble keeping up.

Neither Defense Can Take Over This Game

Some of the league’s premier defensive players will be on display at SoFi Stadium Sunday night. Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Chandler Jones, and Buddah Baker can impact the game every time a QB snaps the ball, but their defenses can’t shut down good opponents. Neither defense is top 10 in opponents’ points allowed or yards per pass attempt. The Rams have played seven playoff teams this year and given up more than 23 points in each game and over 30 points in 3 of the 7. Arizona, on the other hand, has given up 28 points or more in their last six contests, including 30 to the Lions and 38 to the Seahawks last week. The Rams are more proficient at rushing the passer, ranking 3rd in the league with 50 sacks, and took down Murray seven times in their two games during the season.

The Ram defense allowed Arizona an average of 456 total yards in those two games while the Rams averaged 410. Both teams converted 50% of their 3rd down opportunities, and there were only seven punts total in both games. This is going to be an offensive shootout from the opening kick. Look for both offenses to start just a hair on the conservative side to let their QBs get settled in, but the game plans will be wide open. Murray will be more willing to run to pick up first downs as needed, and Stafford will be willing to try to throw into tight windows.

Why Is The Spread More Than A Field Goal

I think there is some line value with the Cardinals. The road teams have won both of the previous games, both times as field-goal underdogs. The Rams have been the hotter team of late but have struggled all year to beat playoff-caliber teams. Stafford has a history of not being able to beat good teams that have continued this season. Additionally, he started out hot this year in Sean McVay’s offense but is careless with the ball and has thrown nine picks in their last four games. He had a chance last week to shake off that reputation but couldn’t lead the team to a win against San Francisco to lock up the division.

Arizona has under Kliff Kingsbury has had issues late in the season that cropped up again this year, but Arizona has been amazingly good on the road. They are 8-1 away from home, straight up, and ATS. Home field in LA is only worth 1 or 2 points at the most, so the line implies the Rams are 2 or 3 points better than the Cardinals. There is only one game separating the two teams in the standings, their point differentials are within 5, and they split during the regular season. To me, that has all the makings of an evenly matched game. Arizona has an excellent to win this game outright, so getting them with 4 points has to be the right side.

Take the 4 Points With the Road Dogs

The play in Los Angeles on Sunday night is to take the 4 points with the visiting Cardinals. I also like over 50 in this contest.

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