For the third time beneath Sean McVay, the Rams entered the postseason as NFC West champions. Los Angeles received 5 of its last six video games to seize the division title, however a Week 18 loss set arrange a wild card weekend matchup with division rival Arizona. While the Rams are, general, trending upward coming into the playoffs, their draw isn’t a simple one. This is the third matchup of the yr between the Rams and Cardinals, with the highway staff taking every of the primary two conferences. To change the narrative on this sport, Los Angeles may look to go extra run-heavy with Sony Michel and (shock!) Cam Akers (more on him here from our injury expert Virginia Zakas). Arizona conceded over 100 dashing yards in three of its last 4 video games. Matthew Stafford threw 5 TDs to at least one interception in opposition to the Cardinals this yr, however it’s exhausting to say if he could be trusted right here. Stafford’s 0-3 within the playoffs, however much more regarding, he had 4 video games with a number of turnovers over the ultimate seven weeks of the season.

Not profitable the division may’ve been one of the best factor for Arizona this postseason. The Cardinals by no means figured issues out at dwelling, however they have been 8-1 on the highway. Still, the Cardinals ended the common season with losses in 4 of their last 5 video games and solely beat one staff with a profitable document from mid-November on. Reinforcements are on the best way, with James Conner and Chase Edmonds each anticipated to be prepared, whereas J.J. Watt was designated to return from injured reserve and DeAndre Hopkins might be again in some unspecified time in the future within the postseason. This may come all the way down to Kyler Murray in his first playoff begin. Murray has simply three touchdowns in opposition to 5 interceptions in Arizona’s 5 losses.

Odds, Over/Under, Moneyline

Team Spread Total Moneyline

+160

-4

49.5

-190

All odds from BetMGM. Odds up to date at 10 a.m. ET Friday. Click here for stay odds.

Cardinals – Rams storylines

Arizona Cardinals information

Los Angeles Rams information

Expert picks

Writer Straight Up Pick

Chris Burke

Nick Kosmider

Tashan Reed

Ben Standig

Michael-Shawn Dugar

Katherine Terrell

Mark Kaboly

Jay Morrison

Full disclosure: I’ve futures bets on simply two groups this season: the Cardinals (40-1, positioned moments after they signed J.J. Watt) and Rams (8.5-to-1, positioned Friday evening once I acquired about midway by way of my playoff staff research session and started to love them lots). There’s going to be a whole lot of deal with the quarterbacks right here — Kyler Murray’s had simply two a number of TD video games since Week 7, whereas Matthew Stafford’s end-season hunch nonetheless stings for a lot of fantasy groups. Stafford’s lack of postseason expertise could also be overblown — he’s began three video games, has two 300-yard video games, and his actual catastrophe sport got here in opposition to a 2016 Seahawks staff that was nonetheless studly defensively. This sport goes to ebb and move with factors and counterpoints — the Rams re-focused their run sport late within the season by leaning on the bodily Sony Michel and surprisingly activating Cam Akers. The Cardinals predict Watt again, together with James Conner and Chase Edmonds. Star wideout DeAndre Hopkins returning is unlikely, however hey — Terrell Owens performed a Super Bowl with a damaged leg. They’re each coached by wunderkinds: Sean McVay is a geniusKliff Kingsbury is an offensive wizard. I suppose I’d wish to see the Cardinals win as a result of I personally stand to win extra money, however I feel the Rams are too robust (you retain forgetting they’ve Von Miller, too) and adjusted sufficient offensively to offset Stafford’s swoon. — Nando Di Fino, Managing Editor, Betting

More NFL Expert Picks

(Photo of Matt Stafford: Rob Carr / Getty Images; The Athletic could obtain an affiliate fee when you open an account with BetMGM by way of hyperlinks contained within the above article.)

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