NFC WILD CARD GAME 3: ARIZONA CARDINALS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS

BY ADAM GREENE

Our super sized Wild Card Weekend ends Monday night with the two teams that vied for the NFC West coming into the final week of the regular season. They both managed to lose. Because of that, the Los Angeles Rams claimed the NFC West crown and hopefully will have a stadium filled with their own fans this time when they host the Arizona Cardinals.

The Rams are coming in with a thoroughly punched nose after losing their sixth consecutive game against the 49ers. They’ve not had nearly that kind of trouble with the Cardinals, winning 11 out of the last 14 match ups with Arizona. And, yes, some of those go back to the Jeff Fisher days.

Arizona not only had the NFC West in their hands for much of the season, but the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but they lost four of their last five, with their only victory coming over the Dallas Cowboys three weeks ago.

This will be the 88th all time meeting between the two franchises, with the Rams holding a 46-39-2 advantage. The Rams won their last meeting 30-23. Matthew Stafford threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Sony Michel rushed 20 times for 79 yards and Cooper Kupp hauled in 13 passes for 123 yards and a score. Kyler Murray had 383 yards passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He led the Cards rushing with 61 yards.

This is just the second time the Rams and Cardinals have met in the playoffs. LA won that first match up 35-23 when the Cards were still in St. Louis back in the 1975 season.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4, O/U: 49.5)

Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.

Broadcast: ESPN/ABC/ESPN+

Kickoff: Jan. 17, 8:15 p.m.

ARIZONA CARDINALS (11-6)

Arizona backed into the playoffs after suffering a 38-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in a game where they had a shot to take the NFC West title and claim a home playoff game. Kyler Murray threw for 240 yards and a touchdown. James Conner had 52 yards and a score on the ground and caught six passes for 41 yards and a TD. Zach Ertz had seven catches for 84 yards. The Cards defense sacked Russell Wilson once and intercepted him once.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (12-5)

While a three point overtime loss to a playoff team might not seem humiliating, it had to be for the Rams, who fell 27-24 to the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. San Francisco fans took over SoFi Stadium, making it a road game for the home team and while the offense did enough to win the game, it was two defensive collapses at the end of each half that allowed the Niners to take it. Matthew Stafford finished 21 of 32 for 238 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Cooper Kupp caught seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown to take the NFL’s receiving Triple Crown and the defense sacked Jimmy Garoppolo three times and picked him off twice.

THE PICK

While the Cardinals did break Sean McVay’s win streak over them earlier this season, LA still has the match up advantage in this one. A depleted safety group could cause some issues, but Arizona has been on a skid since December that started with a loss to these same Rams. The winner probably gets a date with the Green Bay Packers next week at Lambeau Field, so there’s that to look forward to. Rams 27, Cardinals 21

Last Week

Straight up: 11-5

Against the spread: 10-6

Season

Straight up: 170-101-1

Against the spread: 143-129

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

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