It all comes down to Week 17 for the Rams and Cardinals with both teams’ playoff hopes hanging in the balance. The winner will head to the postseason, while the loser – unless the Bears also lose, which would send the Rams to the playoffs – will watch their season end on Sunday.
The Rams have had the Cardinals’ number since Sean McVay took over in 2017, and they remain the favorites in this matchup despite being decimated by injuries in the last couple of weeks.
Here are eight stats and facts to know as this pivotal Week 17 matchup approaches.
Sean McVay is 7-0 vs. Cardinals
The Rams have had the Cardinals’ number since McVay took over in 2017. They’re 7-0 in that span, with just one of those games being within single digits. The Cardinals have played L.A. better in their last two meetings, scoring a total of 52 points after putting up just 32 points in their previous five meetings. All-time, the Rams lead the series 44-38-2 and have won eight in a row dating back to 2016.
Rams never lack points when facing Cardinals
Since McVay was hired in 2017, the Rams have never scored fewer than 31 points against the Cardinals. They’ve scored between 31 and 38 points each time, averaging 33 points per game in that span. The Cardinals, on the other hand, average only 12 points per game against the Rams since 2017, so they’ve been stonewalled by L.A. in the last four years.
Rams will be without leading passer, rusher and receiver
Jared Goff has a broken thumb and will miss Sunday’s game. Darrell Henderson has a high ankle sprain, landing him on injured reserve Tuesday. Cooper Kupp tested positive for COVID-19 and will also miss the season finale. Those three lead the Rams in passing, rushing and receiving, leaving L.A. without three of its top offensive players. In their place John Wolford will get the start, Van Jefferson will see his role expand and Malcolm Brown will likely handle the bulk of the carries if Cam Akers is also out.
Rams are 2nd in NFL with 49 sacks, have five games with at least 5.0
The pass rush has gone to another level this season in L.A. erupting for 49 total sacks by the defense. Aaron Donald has 13.5 of them, but he’s gotten plenty of help from the Rams’ other defensive linemen and edge rushers. The Rams rank second in the NFL with 49 sacks and in five games this season, they’ve sacked the quarterback at least five times – including last week against the Seahawks.
Cardinals have two wins vs. teams above .500
Arizona comes into the final week of the season with a respectable 8-7 record. However, only two of those victories came against teams above .500: The Bills in Week 10 on a Hail Mary and the Seahawks in overtime in Week 7. Arizona hasn’t exactly looked impressive against quality teams this season, and they’ve lost to the Lions, Panthers, Patriots and an injury-ravaged 49ers team just last week. The Rams only have four wins against teams with winning records, but they’ve passed the eye test more than Arizona has.
L.A. has turned the ball over in every game this year
The Rams have turned the ball over 23 times this year, which is eighth-most in the NFL. Those giveaways have been spread throughout the season, too, with at least one coming in every single game L.A. has played this year. They have four games with multiple turnovers, which they are 1-3 in, and have turned it over exactly once in each of the last four weeks. Arizona has only taken it away 19 times this season, but that number is likely to climb with the Rams up next.
Rams have only lost three straight once under McVay
Winning streaks have been tough to come by for the Rams this season, but so have losing skids. Since 2017, the Rams have just one streak of three losses in a row, and they’ll try to avoid making that two such streaks this week. After dropping games to the Jets and Seahawks, the Rams are in danger of losing three games in a row. It’s hard to believe but their longest winning streak of the year is only two games, which is the same number of games the Jets have won in a row.
Kyler Murray has more rushing yards, TDs than every Rams RB
Murray would probably lead a bunch of teams in rushing this season, the Rams included. He’s gained 816 yards on the ground and scored 11 rushing touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry on 131 attempts. The Rams’ leading rusher, Henderson, has just 624 yards on 138 attempts with five rushing touchdowns. Mobile quarterbacks almost always average more yards per carry than a traditional running back, but it’s worth noting how good Murray has been on the ground this year.