The Los Angeles Rams let one slip away from them in Week 18 when they blew a 17-3 halftime lead against their NFC West division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. That dropped their record to 12-5, which also put their division-leading status up in the air.
Luckily for them, the Arizona Cardinals also fell short in Week 18, losing to the Seattle Seahawks. So the Rams took the division title and now the teams will be facing off in Wild Card weekend as a result.
It will be the third time this season the Rams and Cardinals face-off, as they split the first two meetings. Each team won on the road, with the Cardinals winning the first meeting 37-20 in Los Angeles and the Rams winning the second in Glendale 30-23.
We can expect another high-scoring, competitive game in their third match. Here are four bold predictions for the Rams when they take the field on Monday night against the Cardinals.
4. Defense Gets After Kyler Murray
The Los Angeles Rams saw the performance of their defense slip in 2021. After having the No. 1 defense in 2020, they fell to 15th in points allowed and 17th in yardage. But, there is a ton of talent on that defense and they will put it together on Wild Card weekend.
In the first meeting of the season, the Rams sacked Kyler Murray three times. In the second, they got to him four times. On Monday night, they will get to him five times, the second consecutive game that Murray will be sacked that amount of times.
3. Cam Akers Scores Touchdown
The Los Angeles Rams suffered a huge loss over the summer when Cam Akers suffered an Achilles injury. Akers came on at the tail end of his rookie season and there were big things planned for him in 2021.
Normally, an injury of that nature would easily sideline a player for the entirety of the season and even put the beginning of the next season in jeopardy, but not Akers. He worked relentlessly to get back on the field and miraculously, only seven months later he was able to return.
Shockingly, he can play only five months after such a devastating injury. But he is back and the Rams are happy to have him. He is still being brought along slowly, but all of the hard work will pay off as he will score a touchdown against the Cardinals to really fire up his teammates.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. Breaks 100-Yard Plateau
The 2021 season started off very rocky for Odell Beckham Jr. He was making a return from a knee injury but it was more of the same with the Cleveland Browns. He and Baker Mayfield were never able to get on the same page as his acquisition didn’t help Mayfield elevate his game at all.
Eventually, things came to an impasse and Beckham was released. He signed with the Los Angeles Rams and quickly showed that he can still produce when given the chance. In eight games with the Rams, he has caught five touchdowns. That is more than any season with the Browns and only two short of how many he caught his entire tenure in Cleveland.
The one thing that he hasn’t accomplished this season was breaking the 100-yard plateau, but that will change this weekend. Beckham went for 77 yards and a touchdown in the last game against the Cardinals and will surpass those numbers Monday.
Beckham will take full advantage of the attention that Cooper Kupp draws, going over the 100-yard mark for the first time and catching a touchdown in his first playoff game since the boat picture debacle with the New York Giants.
1. Blowout Victory Over Division Rivals
The Los Angeles Rams traded two first-round picks for Matthew Stafford so that he could help get them to this position. While he had some struggles, as pick-sixes were an issue, this team has the talent to go all the way.
They will make quick work of their division rivals in Wild Card weekend. We will see a clean performance from Stafford, who won’t turn the ball over for the first time since the game against the Arizona Cardinals on December 13th.
Los Angeles will win the game 31-17 and advance onto the divisional round, where they will more than likely be heading on the road to potentially face the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Dallas Cowboys.