Los Angeles Rams X-Factors To Watch Against The Cardinals

Rams Captain Jordan Fuller is in the midst of a breakout season.

Los Angeles Rams X-Factors To Watch Against The Cardinals

This week the Los Angeles Rams will be welcoming the Arizona Cardinals into SoFi Stadium for an NFC West battle. Both teams come into this game undefeated at 3-0 with the division lead on the line. Each team boasts an MVP candidate. Sean McVay has gone 8-0 against the Cardinals in his head coaching career. Can the Rams and McVay make it 9-0? Let’s discuss this week’s x-factors and how they may impact the result of the game.

Contain Kyler Murray

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is in the MVP conversation this year. He has thrown for 7 touchdowns and ran it in for 3 more. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have averaged 34.3 points per game. Nearly half of Murray’s passing touchdowns have come on passes of 20+ yards. However, he has also thrown 3 interceptions on passes of 20+ yards. Obviously Jalen Ramsey and the Rams secondary need to bring their A-game. This week the play of the Rams’ safeties will be important in stopping the Cardinals’ explosive offense. Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller have struggled at times in the first three weeks of the season. They need to step up this week and force some turnovers.

Aside from his passing, Murray is also a threat on the ground with 3 rushing touchdowns. The Rams have to stay disciplined with their rush lanes this week. They can’t allow Murray to convert third downs with his legs. As good as the Rams defense has been, they have seven players who’ve missed over 10% of their tackle attempts. The Rams have to wrap up against Murray and bring him down as often as they can. The Rams’ ability or inability to contain Murray is one of the most important x-factors to watch against the Cardinals this week.

Air It Out

Sean McVay has been more creative than we’ve ever seen in the early weeks of 2021. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp have looked unstoppable. The Rams are averaging 31.7 points per game and easily could be even better. Kupp leads the NFL in yards and touchdowns and Stafford has looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Expect that to continue against the Cardinals secondary.

The Rams should target Cardinals’ rookie Marco Wilson early and often as he has allowed a touchdown each of the last two weeks and is allowing a 131.5 passer rating when targeted. Stafford is firmly in the MVP conversation and that shouldn’t change this week. The offense is built to air it out and rack up scores. Stafford and his receivers should be one of the most exciting x-factors to watch against the Cardinals.

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Win The Turnover Battle

With both teams sporting MVP caliber quarterbacks, the turnover battle is that much more critical. Neither team can afford errors that lead to points for the other team. The Rams are currently +2 in turnover margin. They have forced 3 interceptions and 1 fumble. The Rams have thrown 1 interception and lost 1 fumble. Meanwhile, the Cardinals sit at a +3 turnover margin with 3 interceptions and 4 fumbles forced.

Murray has thrown 4 interceptions which is only better than struggling rookies Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and second-year player Joe Burrow. Murray has also had 7 turnovers in four games against the Rams. If Raheem Morris’ defense can force some turnovers and capitalize with points it may be a long day for Murray and the Cardinals’ offense. Which team can win the turnover battle will be one of the most interesting x-factors in this NFC West showdown.


Rams Captain Jordan Fuller is in the midst of a breakout season. Via Lindsey Thiry