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Cardinals vs Rams: Week 4 NFL preview


Cardinals vs Rams preview

The Arizona Cardinals will look to do something they have not accomplished as a franchise when they visit the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Beat a team led by head coach Sean McVay.

The Rams (3-0) are 8-0 against the Cardinals since McVay took over as L.A.’s head coach in 2017.

However, the Cardinals are playing good football heading into this weekend’s contest, defeating their first three opponents by a combined score of 103-65.

The Cardinals are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2015, the year they made it all the way to the NFC title game.

Cardinals vs Rams: Kyler Murray presents issues for opponents

NFL power rankings, Arizona Cardinals
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Kyler Murray has been the driving force behind an Arizona offense averaging 34.3 points per contest, tied for the top spot in the NFL with Tampa Bay. Murray, in his third NFL season out of Oklahoma, has completed 76.5 percent of his passes for 1,005 passing yards, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

“He’s a problem,” McVay told reporters this week.

The cat-quick Murray also has 70 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

“It’s a long season,” Murray said about being in the MVP hunt. “I was raised and taught that if you win as a team, the individual accolades will come. That’s how I treated it in high school. That’s how I treated it when I won the Heisman (Trophy) and that’s how I treat it now.”

Related: NFL MVP odds 2022-23 – Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes are your betting favorites

While Murray says he’s not worried about the league MVP award, someone he’s in direct competition with will be across the sideline on Sunday in Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Cardinals vs Rams: Matthew Stafford in MVP form too

NFL MVP odds 2021
Sep 12, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas native is showing why McVay helped to orchestrate his arrival in Los Angeles via trade during the offseason. Stafford threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns in a big win at home over the defending Super Bowl champs Tampa Bay last week.

Stafford’s efforts earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in three weeks. Through three games, Stafford ranks No. 5 in the league in passing yards (942) and tied for second in passing touchdowns (9). Stafford, with just one interception, sports the best TD-to-INT ratio through the first three games for the first time in his 13-year NFL career.

Cooper Kupp has been Stafford’s primary target. The Eastern Washington product is second in the league behind Davante Adamas in targets with 33 and tied for first in the NFL in receptions with 25.

Kupp’s also first in the NFL in receiving yards (367) and receiving touchdowns (5).

Stafford has benefited from solid protection. L.A.’s offensive line has given up just three sacks.

Another area the Rams could attack Arizona’s defense is on the ground. The Cardinals allow 140.7 rushing yards a contest, No. 29 in the NFL.

The Rams could get running back Darrell Henderson Jr. back this week. Henderson missed last week’s game against the Bucs with a rib injury.

Related: NFL defense rankings – Huge shakeups for top 20 defense before training camp

Henderson was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday, while edge rusher Leonard Floyd (ankle), receiver Tutu Atwell (illness) and cornerback Robert Rochell (illness) did not practice for the Rams.

Henderson “had a good look in his eye and took part in walkthrough just now,” McVay told reporters on Wednesday. “So, I just think the expectation and anticipation is that he’ll play, but I’m not 100 percent sure.”

For the Cardinals, offensive linemen Kelvin Beachum (ribs), Justin Pugh (back) and Justin Murray (back), along with receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ribs), did not practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media