There is NOTHING better than playoff football, and lucky for us we have another star-studded game tonight as Arizona travels to Los Angeles to take on Sean McVay's club.
The storylines are already in full force between the past two days. On Saturday, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen asserted themselves as a real, legitimate threat to win the AFC championship, and just yesterday Tampa and Kansas City reminded the world they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. And, of course, Dallas did what Dallas always does and left the playoffs without a win. Now, let's get into the nitty gritty, and extend our current winning streak to three straight!
NFL Wildcard Weekend, with odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook - which has an incredible offer for first time users:
Arizona at Los Angeles
Line: Los Angeles (-3.5)
Dominating Defenses: LA has proven to have Arizona's number in the past. In fact, McVay and Company are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games versus Arizona. But, it's the playoffs, and you throw away the records of the past. The two defenses matchup fairly even in this game. The Rams are ranked fifth in total defense and the Cardinals are one spot behind them at sixth overall. I can't remember a time a game featured this many star individual defensive players. Just to name a few, we are going to see J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Chandler Jones, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd, Budda Baker, Isaiah Simmons, and more! It's going to come down to who makes the big play, and both teams flaunt opportunistic defensive units.
Which Matt Stafford will show up?: The Rams are going to need their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, to play like he's been in a playoff atmosphere before.... and he hasn't. Stafford has admittedly played turnover-prone football down the stretch. He leads the NFL in pick-6's this year, and the Cardinals will look to capitalize with their 27 turnovers forced. If Matt Stafford proves he can take care of the ball early in this game, the Rams will be rolling. Nobody has shown they are capable of guarding Cooper Kupp by themselves this whole year. And when Odell Beckham Jr. lines up with him, defenses have their hands full. McVay should be able to scheme some early plays for them and put pressure on Arizona. Cam Akers and Sony Michael are going to need to set a tone on the ground so Arizona doesn't only put a couple guys in the box and pay extra attention to the Ram's perimeter threats.
Can the Cardinals win without D-Hop?: Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have never been to the playoffs before, and I believe that matters. And it's especially important when you factor in a top-3 receiver in the league, DeAndre Hopkins, won't be suiting up. Arizona still has enough firepower to scare teams even without him. Chase Edmunds is elusive, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green are known commodities, and Zach Ertz is one of the most reliable tight ends in the league. Arizona's chances to win (and more importantly cover) this game will come down to how well Kyler Murray plays, and how clean the pocket will be. We know Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd will do everything in their power to disrupt Kyler and the Cardinals.
Game Prediction: The over/under is the play here. Arizona getting 3.5 is very enticing, and I can very much see this game coming down to a field goal given how well they know each other. But I trust Sean McVay way more than I do Kliff Kingsbury, and I cannot come to terms betting against McVay. I think the divisional opponents have enough film out there that this game gets ugly and points will be harder to come by than ever before. Despite scoring 57 and 53 in their past two respective meetings, the playoffs come with a certain pressure. Stafford and Kyler both have never been there before, and it may take a quarter to shake the nerves.
Official pick: Under 50
Final Score: 27 - 21 Los Angeles
Follow Jay Oppler on Twitter @JayOppler23
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