Matthew Stafford and Kyler Murray could both miss Sunday’s clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals in a crucial game for both teams’ seemingly dwindling playoff hopes.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Rams is 5-3 before the Cardinals visit after suffering multiple losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only team supporting them in the NFC West is Arizona, who fell to 3-6 last time out with a home loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray will be a game decider with a hamstring injury and it could well be a fight between assistant Colt McCoy and Rams backup John Wolford. Stafford (concussion) is ruled doubtful after making a limited return to practice on Friday.
“It could go up to 90 minutes before kick-off,” said coach Sean McVay of Stafford.
“Because when you have a guy who’s a seasoned player like him, you’re not going to take any chances at all… We’re not going to skip steps, so I don’t want that to be misconstrued. But I think it would be stupid of me to exclude him.”
Even if Stafford can’t play, the Rams may have reason to be optimistic about beating the Cardinals.
The Rams have been 10-1 against the Cardinals since 2017, including a win in Arizona in Week 3 of that year. The only defeat came last season at the SoFi Stadium. The only team with more wins against a single opponent since 2017 is the New England Patriots, who are 11-0 against the Jets.
However, the Rams have the worst offense in the NFL in terms of yards per game, averaging just 4.71. Additionally, they’ve scored three goals on 29.4 percent of their offensive drives this season, the second-highest mark in the league (Pittsburgh, 31.8). Last season, they did so on just 13.3 percent of their trips, the second-lowest in the league (Kansas City, 10.1).
The Cardinals shouldn’t be too scared of the Rams retiring like the Seahawks did last week, but with Arizona averaging just 4.88 yards per play, a low-scoring game is likely regardless of who’s under stands in the middle.
If the Rams are to prevail, wide receiver Cooper Kupp will likely be the offensive difference maker.
Last week, Kupp produced his 20th career game with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, the most in the NFL since joining the league in 2017. The only other players with more than 15 such games in that span are Davante Adams (19 ) and Tyreek Hill (18).