Who will win the battle of the NFC West in the Wild Card round? Frank Schwab gets you ready for the first-ever Monday playoff matchup with a betting preview of the Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams showdown.
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FRANK SCHWAB: Welcome to Yahoo Sportsbook Daily. It is Monday, January 17th, 2022. I'm your betting guide, Frank Schwab, for a unique wild card game, the first scheduled Monday night wild card game in NFL history. Hey, who's saying no to some extra football? And what do we get on Monday night? Pretty good game between two absolutely unpredictable NFC West teams.
We have the Arizona Cardinals as 4-point underdogs going to the Los Angeles Rams, over/under of 49 and 1/2. And look, I'll be honest. I don't know what to make of either one of these teams. Let's start with the Arizona Cardinals. Let's go through the Cardinals' last three games, and tell me if you could figure anything out from this. They lost to the Lions. They won at Dallas. And then with a chance to win the NFC West in the final game of the season, they lost at home to a 7 and 10 Seattle Seahawks team. What comes next?
I don't know how you could predict what is next with the Arizona Cardinals, who lost four of their last five after such a great start to the season. They seem to have lost a lot of confidence late in the year. DeAndre Hopkins' absence from the lineup certainly didn't help them. But that game against the Cowboys still was there. They went on the road and beat one of the best teams in the NFL on their home field. So we know that Arizona team is still there somewhere, the one who started the season so well, was number one in my power rankings for a long time. You just wonder if they can recapture that magic before they play the Rams. We've also seen the Arizona Cardinals absolutely blast the Rams on their home field 37-20. But that was back early in the season. It seems like a long time ago.
But yet, how do you trust the Rams either? This is a team that's been up and down. They lost last week. They didn't know that they had the NFC West clinched because the Cardinals lost. They had to think, we got to win to win the division, and they blew a 17-0 lead to the 49ers, lost in overtime to San Francisco. Matthew Stafford threw the interception at the end of overtime. This team has been up and down. Its defense was a no-show last week.
Matthew Stafford is making at least two plays every week where you're like, what are you doing, Matthew? Terrible decisions, bad turnovers. If you could tell me Matthew Stafford and this offense don't turn the ball over, I would love the Rams in this spot. But you can't. You can't tell me that you trust this Rams team right now with the way they've played. It's up and down for them. It's up and down for the Cardinals. So we've got to pick one of these teams, right? It's Monday night. It's Wild Card Weekend. We're going to have to put some bet on the wild card game, first one on Monday night.
And I'll go with the Rams, minus 4. I'm just really troubled by the way the Cardinals stumbled to the finish. I think, maybe, that Cowboys win was an anomaly that just-- they had one big game, and that was kind of it for them for this season. It wouldn't shock me if the Cardinals went on the road and won. We've seen them compete against the Rams and then beat the Rams in LA. We've seen them play really, really good football, but it has been a while. I believe a little bit in momentum going into the playoffs, and the Cardinals simply have none of it right now as they go into LA.
Let's look at a couple of player props, too, in this one. And I'm going to go with some overs on the Rams. I'm going to hope for this Rams team to take advantage of the Cardinals defense. I'm going to bet on the Rams taking advantage of this Cardinals defense with a couple of these props. First, we're going to go with Matthew Stafford, over 274 and 1/2 passing yards. I think this is going to be a pass-heavy attack for the Rams. I think this game could get really high scoring. I do lean to the over 49 and 1/2. And with that, I'll take Stafford. I think he could have a 300-yard game here. We all know about the weapons he has. I think you're going to want to open it up a little bit. I think he can hit some big plays against this Cardinals secondary.
And I'm also going to take, in a bit of a correlated play, Odell Beckham. Over 45 and 1/2, I think, is pretty low. They're getting him involved more and more every week. He's making a big play every week. And I think in a game like this, now that it's playoff time, they're really going to want to get the most they can out of Odell Beckham after acquiring him in mid-season. This is why they got him. This is why he's here. I think Odell Beckham has a nice game to go along with Matthew Stafford putting up a bunch of yards, too.
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So to recap, I have the Rams minus 4 but don't feel that confident about it, because you don't know what Rams team you're going to get. You don't know a Cardinals team you're going to get. But let's ride with the Rams, because they were a little bit better at the end of the season. Also, a slight lean towards over 49 and 1/2. Then I have over on Matthew Stafford passing yards, over on Odell Beckham receiving yards. And we'll see what happens in the most unpredictable game of the six this Wild Card Weekend.
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