When the television executives sit in a room with the NFL schedule makers and set up their primetime lineup, they dream about meaningful December football games with division titles on the line.
Well done, nameless, faceless, T.V. man. You got a winner.
Since Week 1, these are the two teams who have been most likely to win what has been one of the most competitive divisions in the league. And while the NFC West can’t be clinched on Monday, if the Rams have any designs on winning the division, this is a must-win game.
A win for the Cardinals will put them up by three games with four to play, and they would complete the season-sweep of L.A. That means that the only way Arizona could lose the division would be to lose all four remaining games, with L.A. winning all four of its games.
Los Angeles Rams
They believe they got their mojo back, as much as a win over a really bad Jaguars team can do that. Perhaps the good feelings are just an indication of how bad things were after dropping three straight games. And these were three straight losses after giving up two draft picks for Von Miller and signing Odell Beckham, Jr.
Those two new Rams now have a win, but the team needs to string a number of wins together if they have any hope of catching Arizona and winning the NFC West.
That will fall on the shoulders of Matthew Stafford, who insists he is healthy, even if his offense isn’t. As great as Cooper Kupp has been this season – he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL – the absence of Robert Woods is noticeable. And as dynamic as he can be, OBJ is not a full replacement.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
The Cardinals won two of the three starts Colt McCoy had to make in place of Murray, and not only did his play keep Arizona atop the NFC playoff seedings, he allowed Murray to take extra time to truly get healthy.
We saw how valuable that last part was in the Cardinals’ win over the Bears. The acceleration that makes Murray such a dangerous weapon was back. His legs were fresh, and the time off for their most important player gives Arizona a leg-up on the rest of the competition in the conference.
When Kliff Kingsbury was hired in 2019, he hadn’t had a winning season since 2015. When Kyler Murray was drafted, he was too short and was going to be an outfielder for the A’s. Now the hire of Kingsbury and the drafting of Murray are two lauded decisions by the Cardinals – a football team not exactly known for making great choices.
Since going to the Super Bowl following the 2018 season, Sean McVay has been the young genius coach of the NFC. But maybe that mantle has been passed to Kingsbury. He is, of course, the college coach who helped develop Patrick Mahomes. And now he’s the NFL coach that has made Kyler Murray a threat on every play.
In the end, the combo of Kingsbury and Murray is clicking better than the combo of McVay and Stafford, and that will make the difference on Monday night. Arizona wins, 34-30, and COVERS this spread.
The two quarterbacks are going to combine for close to 600 total yards, and with weapons like Cooper Kupp, OBJ, DeAndre Hopkins, and Rondale Moore, this is going to be a track meet. 34-30 is the prediction, which makes the OVER the clear bet.