An NFC West division rivalry will be renewed Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals (1-4) head north to take on the Los Angeles Rams (2-3) at 4:25 pm Eastern. Los Angeles has had an up-and-down season facing one of the toughest schedules of any team to date.
The Rams’ opponents are a combined 18-6 on the year as Los Angeles has lost to both remaining undefeated teams (San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles) as well as the 3-1 Seattle Seahawks.
Arizona enters the game with their game-changing QB – Kyler Murray – still showing on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. Without Murray, the Cardinals turned to Josh Dobbs to helm the offense. The veteran QB has completed 66% of his passes for 980 yards and six TDs to only two INTs.
While Arizona was competitive in early-season games, the Cardinals have been defeated by 33 combined points over the past two weeks. Can the Cards turn the tide this week on the road against the Rams? We’ll answer that – and name our top three player props for this contest – question below.
The Rams have relied on QB Matthew Stafford’s arm to start the 2023 NFL season. The veteran signal caller is second in the league with 203 attempts, connecting on 61% of those throws for 1,451 yards and five TDs and five INTs.
Stafford’s top target this season has been rookie WR Puka Nacua (more on him later). Last week, long-time preferred target Cooper Kupp returned to the field after his injury last year, and Kupp caught eight of 12 pass attempts for 118 yards in his debut.
With both Nacua and Kupp at his disposal, expect Stafford to throw for over 300 yards against the Cardinals. Currently, Arizona is the fourth-worst franchise against the pass, allowing over 1,450 yards through five games. Stafford will aim to worsen the Cardinals’ standing after this Week 6 matchup.
With Dobbs taking snaps, the Cardinals have relied heavily on WR Marquise Brown. The fifth-year player has a team-leading 42 targets for 300 yards and three TDs this season. Those three TDs are half of Arizona’s total for the season through the air.
Facing Los Angeles is a tall order for WRs this season. Through five games, the Rams have allowed only one TD to WRs this year, and that occurred in their season-opening defeat of the Seahawks. With lockdown CBs roaming the field, Los Angeles has forced opponents into finding success running the ball.
Arizona has had limited success rushing, so expect Dobbs to throw the ball early and often in this contest. Take the longshot odds here that his top target will find paydirt and score a victory for bettors this weekend.
Now that Cooper Kupp has resumed his role in the Los Angeles Rams’ offense, it’s a fair question to wonder if rookie sensation Puka Nacua will see as many targets as he enjoyed with Kupp in the lineup.
If their first game together is any indication, bettors can expect Nacua to continue seeing opportunities to catch the football. Against Philadelphia last week, Nacua had 11 throws come his way, catching seven passes for 71 yards and a TD. Kupp – who caught 8 of 12 targets for 118 yards – only had one additional throw, suggesting the workload will continue to be split.
Expect Nacua to continue his spectacular NFL debut season with a big game against the Cardinals. Arizona is allowing QBs to complete nearly 75% of their passes to WRs this year, ranking among the 10 worst defenses in the league against WRs.
With Arizona allowing two consecutive opponents top 30 points, conventional wisdom implies that the Cardinals could allow that total – or more – to Los Angeles this week.
But conventional wisdom doesn’t take into account how many times these two teams have squared off and how well they know each other. Nine out of the previous 13 meetings have seen total points scored under the 48.5-point mark.
That statistic is true for the past three meetings as well, including the NFC Wildcard game these squads played in 2022. Expect this streak to continue with this Week 6 NFL matchup.