Breaking down how the Rams (1-1) and the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) match up heading into their game at 1:25 p.m. PDT on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The game will be shown on Fox and streamed on the Fox Sports app and NFL+.
When Rams have the ball: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for three touchdowns in a 31-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons but enters this game having had five passes intercepted in two games — most in the NFL. The Rams are still without receiver Van Jefferson, so Stafford will continue to rely on star receiver Cooper Kupp, tight end Tyler Higbee and receiver Allen Robinson. After backup tight end Brycen Hopkins was suspended this week for three games for violating the NFL’s substances of abuse policy, the Rams re-signed Kendall Blanton. Against the Falcons, coach Sean McVay deployed receiver Ben Skowronek as a fullback, so it will be interesting to see if he continues that approach against the Cardinals, who rank second to last in pass defense. Because of a season-ending ankle injury suffered by Tremayne Anchrum, the Rams will feature their third different starting line in three games. Alaric Jackson will start at right guard. Lineman J.J. Watt, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, has the lone sack for a Cardinals defense that is giving up a league-worst 33.5 points a game. Safeties Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson and cornerback Byron Murphy are proven playmakers.
When Cardinals have the ball: Kyler Murray, more adept at extending plays than perhaps any NFL quarterback, has passed for three touchdowns and run for another. Murray’s scrambling ability was on full display in the final minutes of regulation in the Cardinals’ 29-23 overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and Rondale Moore has not played because of a hamstring injury, so Murray has relied on receivers Greg Dortch, Marquise Brown, A.J. Green and tight end Zach Ertz. Darrel Williams, Eno Benjamin and James Conner are the top backs. The Rams’ are coping with injuries to several defensive backs. Troy Hill, David Long and Cobie Durant are out, and safety Jordan Fuller is questionable. The Rams will look for rookie Derion Kendrick and second-year pro Robert Rochell to step up in a secondary led by star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. With edge rusher Leonard Floyd playing through a knee issue, the Rams signed edge rusher Takkarist McKinley. He has not played since he suffered an Achilles injury last December. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald needs one sack to reach 100 in his career. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has two sacks.
When they kick: Rams special teams will try to bounce back after several miscues against the Falcons. Riley Dixon had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. A free kick after a safety also bounced out of bounds. Kicker Matt Gay has made both of his field-goal attempts. Cardinals kicker Matt Prater has not attempted a field goal. Andy Lee is averaging 40.9 net yards per kick.
Gary Klein’s prediction: Murray showed last season he can be problematic for the Rams early this season. The Rams have an injury-depleted secondary, but Murray’s receiving corps also is not at full strength.
RAMS 27, CARDINALS 24