Rams vs. Cardinals: 7 things to know about Week 4 matchup

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In addition to their three-game winning streak to start the year, the Los Angeles Rams will put their eight-game run against the Arizona Cardinals on the line this weekend. They’ve owned the Cardinals since Sean McVay took over four years ago, sweeping them each season.

The Cardinals are 3-0, too, making this a massive matchup between two of the last five undefeated teams with first place in the NFC West up for grabs. Here are seven things to know ahead of this Week 4 showdown.

Rams have outscored Cardinals 251-91 during 8-game winning streak

There has been no head-to-head matchup in the last four years more lopsided than Rams-Cardinals. The Rams are 8-0 against Arizona since Sean McVay took over in 2017, outscoring the Cardinals 251-91 – an average of margin of 31-11.

The Rams have scored at least 30 points in seven of their last eight against the Cardinals, winning seven of those games by 10 points or more. This is a much better Cardinals team than the ones the Rams have faced in the last four years, but Los Angeles has had their number.

Cardinals lead NFL in scoring, 2nd in yards

No team has scored more points than the Cardinals this season, putting up 103 in their first three games. They scored 38 against the Titans, 34 against the Vikings and 31 on the Jaguars, consistently finding the end zone.

They’ve been helped by the defense generating seven takeaways and scoring one touchdown of its own, but Arizona still ranks second in yards, so the offense is moving the ball fairly easily. The Cardinals are averaging 6.8 yards per play, second in the NFL and 0.1 yards per play ahead of the third-ranked Rams.

Arizona is allowing 5.4 yards per carry

The Cardinals are 11th in the NFL in yards and points allowed this season, which is respectable. However, the way to move the ball on them is by running it. They’ve allowed the fourth-most rushing yards (422) and the second-most yards per carry (5.4) in the league so far, with opponents attempting an average of 26 rushes per game.

The Rams are only averaging 3.3 yards per carry this season, which is 30th in the NFL, but this could be a game for them to increase that mark – especially if Darrell Henderson Jr. is back in the starting lineup.

Rams’ first 3 opponents were 11 games better in 2020 than Cardinals’ first 3

All three of the Rams’ wins so far this season have come against playoff teams from last year, making them the first team since the 2007 Packers to start 3-0 with all three wins coming against teams that made the postseason the year prior.

The Bears, Colts and Bucs combined to go 30-18 last season, while Arizona’s opponents – the Titans, Vikings and Jaguars – were a combined 19-29 in 2020. Things change from year to year, but the Rams’ opening opponents have been tougher than Arizona’s.

Rams are scoring on league-high 58.6% of their drives

In three games, the Rams have only had 29 offensive possessions, just one more than their opponents. Yet, they’ve still scored the third-most points in the NFL. That’s because they’re scoring on a league-best 58.6% of their drives, averaging 3.28 points per possession (best in the NFL) and 39.8 yards per drive (5th).

The Cardinals have been good on a per-drive basis, too, but they’ve only scored on 45.7% of their 35 drives thus far. The Rams haven’t had the ball a ton this year, but when they do gain possession, they’re likely to score.

Kyler Murray only averages 3.5 yards per carry vs. Rams

In his career, Murray has averaged an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. He’s a weapon when he takes off and runs, but he hasn’t found much success carrying the ball against the Rams. In four games against Los Angeles, he has just 13 carries for 46 yards – an average of 3.5 yards per carry, which is well below his career mark.

His biggest rushing performance against the Rams came in his first game against them in 2019, when he had 28 yards on four carries. Otherwise, his outputs were 0 yards, 15 yards and 3 yards rushing.

Rams are least penalized team in NFL

Through three weeks, the Rams have only been called for seven penalties, two fewer than any other team in the league. They’ve been called for three holding calls on offense, one face mask penalty, one delay of game and a neutral zone infraction. Kenny Young was also called for unsportsmanlike conduct against the Colts, resulting in his ejection.

The Cardinals are 16th with 20 penalties called against them, so they’ve been flagged quite a few times this season compared to the Rams.

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