Fri, 22 Jan 2021

First Look: Rams travel to Arizona to take on Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams
02 Dec 2020, 17:24 GMT+10

Stu Jackson

The Los Angeles Rams (7-4, 1-2) head back on the road to take on the Arizona Cardinals (6-5, 2-1), seeking to stay near the top of the NFC West standings. Kickoff from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. pacific time on FOX.

In advance of the contest, here is your first look at Rams-Cardinals on Dec. 6, including notable Cardinals additions, some of Arizona's top statistical performers in Week 12 and key storylines:

Notable Cardinals additions

Signed DT Domata Peko Sr. on Nov. 23. In wake of veteran nose tackle Corey Peters sustaining a season-ending knee injury, Arizona turned to the 36-year-old Peko for help in the middle. The 15-year pro spent last season with the Ravens, where he made 13 tackles in seven games. He has one tackle in one game with the Cardinals so far. Traded a 2021 sixth-round pick to the New York Giants for LB Markus Golden on Oct. 23. The Cardinals brought Golden back for a second stint with the team to help their pass rush, and so far he has tallied five QB hits and one sack while starting in three of four games.

Top performers in Week 12

QB Kyler Murray completed 23 of 34 pass attempts for 170 yards with one interception in a 20-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

RB Kenyan Drake powered the Cardinals backfield with 22 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns, all game-highs.

WRs DeAndre Hopkins (5 catches for 55 yards) and Andy Isabella (4 for 33) paced Arizona's receivers, two of eight different ones Murray completed a pass to.

Defensively, LB Jordan Hicks collected a team-high seven total tackles, while DE Trevon Coley and LBs Isaiah Simmons and Devondre Campbell each added one sack and one QB hit.

On special teams, K Zane Gonzalez made 1 of 2 field goal attempts and both of his extra point attempts. The missed field goal - a 45-yard attempt - would've given the Cardinals a 20-17 lead with two minutes remaining.

Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams

While Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey's receiver matchup always gets plenty of attention each week, facing the Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins is especially noteworthy.

Battling it out in the AFC South with the Jaguars and Texans respectively early in their careers, both are in the same division again after the Cardinals acquired Hopkins from the Texans this offseason.

When I asked Ramsey about facing Hopkins twice a year again earlier this spring, Ramsey said Hopkins is "probably my toughest receiver matchup since I've been in the league" and that he was "excited for that challenge." If you've been around Ramsey or watched any of his press conferences since he arrived in Los Angeles, you know he is selective about which receivers he gives such high praise to, so those words about Hopkins carry weight.

If the Cardinals' first 11 games are any indication, Ramsey will get plenty of opportunities to shadow Hopkins on Sunday.

Out of 387 pass attempts this season, Murray has targeted Hopkins a team-high 103 times. That's 26.6 percent of his passes, or roughly one in every four attempts. Hopkins has hauled in 77 of those targets for 967 yards and four touchdowns so far.

While that matchup isn't the only one on the minds of the Rams defense - keeping Murray, among others, in check will be just as important - Ramsey and other defensive backs limiting Hopkins will certainly increase Los Angeles' chances of winning, as New England showed last week.

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