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

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Los Angeles Rams will welcome the undefeated Arizona Cardinals to SoFi Stadium on Sunday afternoon for an important NFC West showdown between two 3-0 teams – as well as two MVP candidates in Matthew Stafford and Kyler Murray.

There will be stars all over the field this weekend, making for some marquee matchups. These teams know each other well as division rivals, and the players on both sides are familiar faces, too.

Here are five key matchups we’ll be watching on Sunday, including the always-anticipated Jalen Ramsey-DeAndre Hopkins battle.

Andrew Whitworth vs. Chandler Jones

Whitworth has been rock solid this season, allowing six pressures on 101 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones, as you might imagine, has also been excellent, recording five sacks (all of which came in Week 1) and 14 total pressures in 100 opportunities. Jones is a game-changer at outside linebacker and has the ability to force a quarterback out of his rhythm by generating pressure off the back side.

Whitworth has faced just about all of the best pass rushers in football, including Jones twice a year for the last four seasons, so he knows what he’s getting into. He must be at his best on Sunday against an elite edge rusher.

Jalen Ramsey vs. DeAndre Hopkins

There isn’t a better wide receiver-cornerback matchup in the NFL than Ramsey and Hopkins. They’re familiar with each other from their days in the AFC South, and last season, the two went at it in each of the Rams’ wins over the Cardinals.

Ramsey got the better of Hopkins last season but keeping the All-Pro receiver down is difficult to do consistently. He’s by far the team’s biggest playmaker, especially in the red zone where he’s particularly dangerous.

His numbers aren’t all that impressive so far this season with just 13 catches for 158 yards, but he has scored three times. Ramsey knows how important this matchup is and should get plenty of chances to cover Hopkins – even in his new role as a slot defender.

Matthew Stafford vs. Budda Baker

Baker is one of the few players in the NFL who offenses have to account for on every snap. Similar to Tyrann Mathieu and even Ramsey, Baker can play all over the field. According to PFF, he’s played 113 snaps at free safety, 54 in the box, 12 covering the slot, three at corner and seven along the defensive line.

Whether he’s blitzing, playing man-to-man, dropping into a deep zone or playing a robber coverage underneath, he can make a quarterback pay for any inaccurate throws in his area. Stafford must be wary when throwing over the middle if Baker is there. He’s only allowed four catches on five targets for 39 yards and has missed only one tackle.

Rams OLBs vs. Kyler Murray

Murray hasn’t had much success in four games against the Rams. He has just 748 yards passing and 46 yards on the ground, throwing five touchdown passes with four interceptions. Los Angeles has figured out a way to slow him down, and that’s largely due to the play of its outside linebackers.

Leonard Floyd and Terrell Lewis will need to contain Murray in the pocket and not allow him to A) extend plays or B) pick up big yardage on the ground. Justin Hollins was instrumental in containing Murray last season, but he won’t be available for this game. It’s on Lewis to ensure Murray doesn’t roll to his left and create big plays on the move.

Sebastian Joseph-Day vs. Rodney Hudson

Hudson helped shore up the middle of the Cardinals’ offensive line this season when he came over in a trade from the Raiders. He’s been a steady presence at center, allowing zero pressures through three games. Joseph-Day is off to a great start in Year 4 and offers plenty of pass-rush upside from the interior in addition to being a stout run defender.

Aaron Donald and Joseph-Day won’t be able to rush blindly upfield against Murray because of how elusive he is, so they will need to take a more calculated plan of attack when it comes to rushing the quarterback. Joseph-Day has experience against Murray and knows how to keep him at bay, as well as the impact that interior pressure can have on a quarterback.

1

1

1

1