Sitting at 3-6, there isn’t much hope left for the Arizona Cardinals to make a run at the postseason. They had lofty expectations going into the season, but have failed to meet them to this point.
A loss is all but the final straw in elimination from the playoffs. They’re on pace to have a top draft pick and there are questions about the future of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim.
They now must face the Los Angeles Rams, whom they have beaten only once during Kliff Kingsbury’s four-year tenure with the team. There are a number of injury question marks in this game, however.
Here is our Week 10 preview of the game.
Arizona's offense vs. L.A.'s defense
Michael Chow-Arizona Republic
It truly is a shame that to this point, we have not seen the duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown on the field at the same time. While there is some optimism Brown returns soon, it is likely too late for any sort of rally to the postseason.
Instead, the Cardinals are relying on Robbie Anderson, who has one catch for minus-four receiving yards in three games played with the team. He had a key drop against the Seahawks last week and hasn’t made any impact.
There is some concern about Kyler Murray’s availability after he popped up as DNP on the injury report Wednesday, but he appears set to play in this game. There are some serious concerns about his pass protection to be kept upright in this game.
The Cardinals will be without their starting LG, C, and RG against a Rams front that of course features Aaron Donald. That does not bode well at all for the Cardinals and it’s genuinely concerning for the health of Murray.
Given the injuries to the interior, the team has not been able to establish a run game consistently and there’s little reason to believe they’ll be able to do so in this one.
Hopkins will naturally draw plenty of coverage against Jalen Ramsey in this one, a matchup he’s struggled with since joining the Cardinals. It could be up to the other receiving options to make an impact, which would likely mean plenty of targets for Rondale Moore and Zach Ertz.
If the Cardinals are going to have any chance of moving the ball in this game, they’ll have to find a way to keep Murray upright with a shadow of their starting offensive line.
L.A.'s offense vs. Arizona's defense
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The major question mark in this game is the availability of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is in the league’s concussion protocol. His status is much more in doubt than Murray’s for this game.
Cardinals fans will infamously remember the loss to Rams backup quarterback John Wolford to prevent a postseason birth in 2020, but that was because of the injury to Murray that kept him out for most of the game. It was not Wolford that kept the Cardinals from the postseason.
If Stafford can’t go, and it’s trending like he won’t, the Cardinals will see Wolford again. Even with Stafford in the lineup, the Rams’ offense has been very bad this season outside of Cooper Kupp. They have no consistent threats outside of him, which naturally leads to plenty of double coverage.
For the Cardinals, their defense has not been responsible for this disaster of a season, but they played far from their best game against the Seahawks last week. They’ll need to contain Kupp again as they did in Week 3, but this time not get gashed in the rushing attack.
If they can keep the rushing attack at bay against Wolford, they have a good chance of winning this game. Shutting down the rushing attack and doubling Kupp is precisely how opposing teams have shut down the Rams’ offense, and that was with Stafford in the lineup.
S Budda Baker (ankle)
OT Kelvin Beachum (knee, illness)
G Cody Ford (illness)
LB Dennis Gardeck (ankle)
G Max Garcia (shoulder)
C Rodney Hudson (knee)
CB Byron Murphy (back)
QB Kyler Murray (hamstring)
LT D.J. Humphries (back)
RB Malcolm Brown (hamstring)
DT Greg Gaines (elbow)
LB Travin Howard (hip)
T Alaric Jackson (knee)
CB Robert Rochell (illness)
QB Matthew Stafford (concussion)