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Cardinals vs. Rams Odds, Picks, Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting This NFL Playoffs Wild Card Showdown

Cardinals vs. Rams Odds, Picks, Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting This NFL Playoffs Wild Card Showdown article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: Cardinals RB James Conner

Cardinals vs. Rams Odds

Spread Rams -3.5
Over/Under 50
Time 8:15 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds via DraftKings. Find real-time NFL odds here.

Note that all defensive pressure stats are courtesy of Pro Football Reference, all DVOA stats are via Football Outsiders, and all other stats are courtesy of PFF unless otherwise noted.


Cardinals-Rams Predictions

In the two games between these division rivals this season, the Cardinals out-gained the Rams both times by a combined 912-777 margin. The Cardinals won the first meeting 37-20, but lost the second by shooting themselves in the foot with two turnovers, one of which was a Kyler Murray interception on a play that started inside the Rams’ 5-yard line.

The Rams are at home for this one, and are thus rightly favored — though their home-field edge can be smaller than most teams, as we saw in Week 18 — but this Cardinals team has what it takes to knock them off.

The Rams have more star power, but both of these defenses are near mirror images of each other in terms of advanced metrics:

  • Rams: 5th in defensive DVOA (6th vs. pass, 5th vs. run)
  • Cardinals: 6th in defensive DVOA (5th vs. pass, 6th vs. run)

The Cardinals will get a boost from the expected return of J.J. Watt, and this was already a defense that ranked ninth in pressure rate (25.9%) during the regular season – 16 spots ahead of the Rams (22.8%).

Both of these offenses took a step back down the stretch, but even without DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals match up well here. The Rams played zone coverage at the third-highest rate in the league this year, and the Cardinals averaged 9.1 yards per targeted pass against zone compared to 6.9 against man.

I don’t think the Cardinals are any more liable to struggle without Hopkins in this matchup as the Rams are with the version of Matthew Stafford we saw over the second half of the season (which coincided with Robert Woods suffering a season-ending ACL injury):

  • Stafford in Weeks 1-8: 69% comp, 9.1 YPA, 22/4 TD/INT, 118 rating
  • Stafford in Weeks 9-18: 66% comp, 7.3 YPA, 19/13 TD/INT, 90 rating

Stafford has been holding the ball for a beat longer down the latter stretch, with his average time to throw going from 2.53 seconds in the first eight games to 2.77 in the last nine, according to PFF. This could hurt him against the Cardinals’ pressure.

I’m also not afraid to fade a Stafford-led team until he proves he can rise to the occasion in big moments.

Per our Action Labs data, Stafford is 32-53-2 (38%) against the spread (ATS) and 26-61 (30%) straight up (SU) in his career against teams with winning records. While it’s fair to point out much of that record was compiled when he was a victim of the Lions’ subpar defenses over the years, it’s notable that the trend continued this season, as he is just 2-5 ATS and 3-4 SU versus teams with winning marks:

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have thrived in these spots, going 18-7-2 (72%) ATS as road underdogs under Kliff Kingsbury, covering by an average of 6.4 points per game.

A Cardinals cover would improve wild-card underdogs of seven or fewer points to 29-16-1 (64%) ATS since 2003.

I also like A.J. Green to go over his yardage prop in this matchup. Among the team’s eight most-targeted players this season, Green leads the Cardinals in yards per route run against zone coverage (2.23), according to PFF. In two matchups this season, Green’s stat lines were 5/67/1 and 7/102/0.

Cardinals-Rams Picks

  • Cardinals +4 (to +4)
  • A.J. Green Over 44 Yards (to 52.5)
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Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

Kyler Murray has shredded zone coverage this season, so it’s not surprising two of his six-highest passing yardage totals (383 and 268) came against the Rams. Murray has to be locked into cash game lineups.

The best WR to pair with Murray in GPPs is A.J. Green, who leads all Cardinals pass catchers who will be active in yards per route versus zone (2.23).

Christian Kirk (1.94), Rondale Moore (1.80) and Zach Ertz (1.51) have all been solid versus zone, while Antoine Wesley (0.85) has struggled. Because of his 6-foot-4 frame, Wesley has seen five targets in the red zone over the past four weeks. He’s in play as a DraftKings Showdown cash game punt play at WR and a low-cost stacking option with Murray in GPPs.

Darrell Daniels and Demetrius Harris have combined for four catches and one red-zone target all season, so they’re not even in the Hail Mary dart throw conversation.

Although the Rams have the fifth-best run defense by DVOA, this is a good matchup for the Cardinals RBs in the passing game, as they rank 24th in DVOA on targets to RBs. This favors Chase Edmonds, who piled up 139 yards on 16 touches in his only active game against the Rams this season. Due to his discounted salary, Edmonds is my choice of the Captain spot in cash games on DraftKings Showdown slates. James Conner is still the superior bet for a TD, though he may not be the featured back here after practicing only once this week with a rib injury.

cardinals injury report-rams injury report-james conner-chase edmonds-nfl-wild card round
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Cardinals RB James Conner

Matthew Stafford averaged 283.5 yards and 2.5 touchdowns against the Cardinals this season. Like Murray, Stafford is a must-play in cash games in order to maximize your chances of accounting for all of the game’s TDs.

The Cardinals have been strong against opposing No. 1 WRs, ranking third in DVOA. Cooper Kupp’s 5/64/0 line in Week 4 against the Cardinals will go down as the only game in which he did not post at least 92 receiving yards. With that said, he came back to hang a 13/123/1 line on Arizona in the second meeting, so I wouldn’t worry about the matchup.

The Cardinals rank 26th in DVOA versus No. 2 WRs and 28th against non-WR1/2s, but second against TEs, so this is a better spot for Odell Beckham and Van Jefferson than Tyler Higbee. Woods and Jefferson both scored in the first matchup, and Beckham and Jefferson both scored in the second. Ben Skowronek’s routes run per dropback over the past four weeks have gone 42%, 3%, 50% and 24%. With upside to play up to half the snaps, Skowronek is in play as a contrarian GPP option. Backup TE Kendall Blanton hasn’t caught a pass since Week 14.

Sony Michel is coming off an inefficient 21-carry, 43-yard outing last week against the 49ers, but he retained his lead-back duties even with Cam Akers returning from his Achilles injury. I think you still have to play Michel in cash games.

Akers has the upside to potentially be the lead back in this game, so he is still one of the best GPP options on the slate. The Cardinals’ biggest weakness on defense has been surrendering explosive runs, so Akers could pay off even as the No. 2 back.

The Cardinals DST are the better play of the two given their higher pressure rate and Stafford’s inconsistent play and propensity to hold the ball longer as of late.

  • Cash Plays: QB Kyler Murray, QB Matthew Stafford, RB Chase Edmonds, RB James Conner, RB Sony Michel, RB Cam Akers, WR A.J. Green, WR Antoine Wesley
  • GPP Plays: WR Christian Kirk, WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Van Jefferson, WR Rondale Moore, WR Ben Skowronek, TE Zach Ertz, DST Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals-Rams DFS Lineups

DraftKings

  • CPT RB Chase Edmonds $7,500
  • QB Kyler Murray $11,200
  • QB Matthew Stafford $10,800
  • RB James Conner $9,400
  • RB Sony Michel $7,800
  • WR Antoine Wesley $1,800

FanDuel

  • MVP QB Kyler Murray $17,000
  • QB Matthew Stafford $15,500
  • RB Sony Michel $12,000
  • WR A.J. Green $8,000
  • RB Cam Akers $7,500

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