The Rams and Cardinals will play Round 2 of their season series on Sunday afternoon, this time with the Rams at home. It’s a critical game for both teams as they attempt to get back on track and prevent further damage to their records.
To preview this important NFC West bout, we caught up with Jess Root of Cards Wire to ask him five key questions, including a final score prediction.
How different is this offense with DeAndre Hopkins back?
Jess Root: The biggest difference has been that his presence changes how defenses approach the Cardinals. Hollywood Brown was playing at a high level before he got hurt, but Hopkins is different. They have been able to score more, although they are still having issues with mistakes.
With Marquise Brown out, who besides Hopkins can give the Rams trouble on offense?
Root: The main weapons will be Rondale Moore, Zach Ertz and James Conner. Moore has been getting high usage and has the speed to make game-changing plays. Ertz is a reliable target and if the Cardinals get Conner going, it means the offense will put up points.
Is Kliff Kingsbury squarely on the hot seat right now and could the Cardinals fire him this season?
Root: One would think he is on the hot seat. Fans feel that way. However, having signed a five-year extension that doesn’t even begin until next season, I don’t know how hot it is with ownership. I think it is possible they could fire him, but that would have to involve firing the GM, who would have hired two failed coaches.
Have the Cardinals done enough to replace Chandler Jones within the pass rush?
Root: Nope. Not at all. No edge rusher has more than two sacks this season. They added bodies and there is some optimism for third-round picks Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders, but the fact of the matter is that has been a major deficiency.
Who wins on Sunday and why?
Root: Oh, boy. The Rams stink offensively and the Cardinals can get out of their own way. Both teams have major offensive line issues. The Rams also haven’t been good defensively lately, while the Cardinals are now allowing the second-most points in the league. What has happened??????? I want to think the Cardinals can win because it gives them a shot to get into the wild card mix, but nothing about the way they are playing suggests that they will, even against a struggling Rams team. It’s going to be an ugly 20-17 Rams win.