The mark of a good team is beating the teams you are supposed to, even when you don’t play well. That is what happened on Sunday with the Cardinals, as they followed up two very good performances against the Titans and Vikings but struggled against the Jaguars.
“The last two years, we would have lost that game for sure,” said quarterback Kyler Murray.
Murray wasn’t great on Sunday, and a terrible call by head coach Kliff Kingsbury to go for a 68-yard field goal led to a 109-yard field goal return the other way. The team trailed 19-10 in the third quarter.
But still, the Cardinals won 31-19 and improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when Murray was a freshman at Texas A&M. Up next, the quest to go to 4-0 for the first time since 2012.
Los Angeles Rams (-6)
The Cardinals are coming off their least impressive win of the season, while the Rams just won their biggest game, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34-24. There were expectations in the offseason that the acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford would put the Rams firmly in the Super Bowl hunt. Those expectations are being realized.
The Stafford-Sean McVay relationship is everything the Rams hoped it would be. Against a good Tampa Bay defense, Stafford was 27-of-38 for 343 yards and four touchdowns. And all of the talk of a quick-strike offense has resulted in touchdown passes of 67 yards, 56 yards, and this week 75 yards to DeSean Jackson.
It was the ninth touchdown pass Jackson has caught that went at least 75 yards, tying him for the most in NFL history. And if the Rams can tap into the Jackson of old, which they were able to do on Sunday, they are going to be really tough to beat.
Beating the Rams in Los Angeles with the way they are playing will be tough. But this is not the same Cardinals team that has currently lost eight straight in the series and hasn’t won at the Rams since they moved back to L.A.
This offense is scrappy and will find a way to score against a good defense. And while they may not be able to go blow-for-blow on long touchdown passes, Murray is proving that he has taken another step in his evolution as a quarterback.
We’re not ready to call for an upset this weekend at SoFi Stadium, but the Cardinals will make this a game that comes down to the final minutes.
Take Arizona and the points.
The Cardinals have gone under in two of their three games, but that is because they got no help on the scoreboard from the Titans and Jaguars. And even still, at Tennessee, they were under by just three points and only 1.5 points under at Jacksonville. Against Minnesota, the total was over by 16 points.
The Rams have gone over in all three games this season, and they make it a fourth against Arizona.