4 key matchups to watch in Rams vs. Cardinals on Sunday

The Rams and Cardinals will meet for the second time this season when Los Angeles hosts its division rival on Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium. The Rams have owned the Cardinals over the last five-plus years, only losing once since 2017.

Both teams are beaten up and reeling after Week 9 losses, but there are still some key matchups to watch on the field this weekend. Here are the four biggest.

Jalen Ramsey vs. DeAndre Hopkins

We missed Ramsey-Hopkins in the last two games between the Rams and Cardinals. In last year’s playoff game, he was out with a knee injury. In Week 3 of this season, Hopkins was serving a six-game suspension. But thankfully this time, we get the heavyweight battle everyone loves watching outside.

Hopkins will once again be Kyler Murray’s favorite target, especially with Marquise Brown out. So it’ll mostly be on Ramey to cover him and limit the damage Nuk does in the passing game. It’ll be critical to have Ramsey on Hopkins in the red zone and on third downs at key moments in the game.

Rob Havenstein vs. J.J. Watt

Watt made just one tackle in Week 3 against the Rams, which was a sack on Matthew Stafford. He’s their top pass rusher and still an impactful player, leading the team with 4.5 sacks and tying with Zach Allen with six tackles for a loss.

Havenstein has been the Rams’ most consistent offensive lineman, and not just because he’s the one who’s stayed healthy. If the Cardinals keep Watt on the left side line they usually do, Havenstein will need to keep him away from Stafford – or John Wolford, whoever starts at QB.

Terrell Lewis vs. D.J. Humphries

Lewis seems to have supplanted Justin Hollins as the No. 2 outside linebacker opposite Leonard Floyd, playing more than Hollins last week. Floyd will be matched up with Kevin Beachum on the right side, but Lewis will take on the Cardinals’ best pass-blocking lineman, Humphries.

Lewis had a solid game against the Buccaneers last week, nearly intercepting a screen pass and also making a good play for a loss in the backfield. Aaron Donald is going to be his disruptive self on the inside, but the Rams need Lewis to wreak havoc on the outside against Humphries.

Bobby Wagner vs. Kyler Murray

Murray was a complete non-factor as a runner in Week 3 against the Rams, only carrying it two times for 8 yards. The Rams did an excellent job sealing the edges and keeping him in the pocket, but doing so again will be a challenge; Murray has 268 yards rushing in his last five games this season.

Wagner could be asked to spy him at times, as could Ernest Jones. Regardless of which linebacker takes on that role, or faces the task of tackling Murray in the open field, will need to wrap him up and not allow him to force missed tackles.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire