Getting To Know The Rams Week 4 Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

Alejandro Avila
Members of the Cardinals huddle up against the Jaguars.

Getting To Know The Rams Week 4 Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

An early-season momentum-setting matchup in the NFC West takes place between the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams.

On an average Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals, led by forecasted MVP pick Kyler Murray, would be the favorite pick. The signature Air Raid offense from Kliff Kingsbury has squeezed plenty of juice from its receiving corps and young QB: boasting a league-leading 34.3 points per game and second-best 432.3 yards per game. But with the LA Rams looking to keep their win streak at SoFi Stadium alive after an impressive Week 3 win against defending champs Tampa Bay, a 4-0 start continues to fall in the Rams’ favor.

2020 Season In Review

Playing in the loaded NFC West last season resulted in a 2-4 intradivision record for the Cards, finishing the year 8-8 overall. Murray’s second season in the league was the start of an ascension for the former No. 1 overall pick: throwing 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 3,971 yards. Murray also ran for 819 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

Paired with the Cardinals’ humming offense, aided by the inclusion of DeAndre Hopkins, was a stout defense that accrued 48 sacks — the fourth-best total of the 2020 season. Arizona is currently tied for the fifth-best total in sacks (9), tied with the Los Angeles Rams defense.

Key Additions And Departures

Among a stacked wide receivers room that includes Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and rising talent Rondale Moore, the key departure from the team was the seasoned Larry Fitzgerald — who contributed 409 receiving yards and a reliable, knowledgeable option for their young quarterback in 2020.

The Cards now insert AJ Green as their most seasoned wideout, whose 112-yard performance in Week 3 may be telling of a tank with plenty of fuel left for the 11-year veteran. Arizona also added former Steelers running back James Conner, a one-two back to assist Chase Edmonds with a void in the backfield left by David Johnson two seasons ago.

On the defensive side, the Cardinals brought back defensive end Markus Golden and Texans’ JJ Watt to bolster their pursuit of the West’s mobile quarterbacks. Golden has posted sacks on back-to-back contests (Week 2, 3) and Watt’s single-digit tackles for the season has been an outcome of teammates Chandler Jones‘ dominant early start to the season — overshadowing the Lone Star legend.

2021 Outlook

With a middle-of-the-pack schedule difficulty in 2021, the Cardinals will once again need to focus on beating division rivals before worrying about the rest of the league. A Week 4 win against the Rams is surely a statement worth making this early in the season, which would catapult AZ to the top of the division over the red-hot Rams. Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals are currently second in the West, leading the San Francisco 49ers (2-1) and Seattle Seahawks (1-2).

As MVP talks surround Kyler Murray based on what he’s been shown to do with his legs and rocket of an arm, it’ll be up to Kliff Kingsbury to lead a capable roster on both sides of the ball to the playoffs. Otherwise, the prospects of a fourth season under Kingsbury could soon be shutting quicker than a slant pass from his up-and-coming QB.

Members of the Cardinals huddle up against the Jaguars.