INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams are solely eight video games faraway from their Tremendous Bowl victory. The Arizona Cardinals are simply 9 video games faraway from an 11-win season and a playoff look.
But the stakes appear pretty excessive for these two struggling NFC West rivals of their second assembly of the brand new season, and it’s as a result of each understand they’re operating out of time to jot down a correct sequel to final 12 months’s successes.
“We ain’t acquired an excessive amount of extra room to maintain dropping now,” mentioned Donald, the Rams’ seven-time All-Professional. “It’s time to discover a solution to go on a run. Go week to week and simply hold attempting to stack up wins.”
The Rams (3-5) are two video games underneath .500 for the primary time in coach Sean McVay’s profession after dropping 4 of their final 5 video games. The Cardinals (3-6) have additionally misplaced 4 of 5, and coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t precisely have the identical ironclad job safety as McVay.
After Los Angeles — which has received 11 of the final 12 conferences on this matchup — hosts Arizona at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, the loser will likely be in a formidable gap in final place within the division.
The Rams’ struggles relaxation virtually squarely on an offense that ranks thirty first within the NFL in whole yards, because of a number of vital accidents on an already subpar offensive line, a nonexistent operating recreation and an absence of skill-position playmakers past Cooper Kupp. What’s extra, quarterback Matthew Stafford might not play towards the Cardinals after coming into the NFL’s concussion protocol on Tuesday.
The Cardinals’ woes are extra balanced between an ineffective protection and an underachieving offense. Arizona has allowed at the very least 31 factors in three straight video games and should face Los Angeles with out injured main tackler Budda Baker, whereas the offense is struggling to discover a groove through which Kyler Murray can orchestrate the dominant performances of early final season.
“For no matter cause, we haven’t reached a degree everyone knows we are able to play at,” Kingsbury mentioned. “The one factor you don’t need to do as a competitor is underachieve a complete season. I feel that’s the place we’ve been, and it’s time to recover from it.”
It’s truthful to say Kingsbury’s job standing has by no means been this tenuous throughout his 4 seasons with the Cardinals.
Arizona has a 4-11 file, together with the playoffs, since beginning final season with a 10-2 mark. Kingsbury is 27-30-1 over his 4 seasons, and the Cardinals brass has seen little return on its high-profile investments since early final season.
“There’s lots to chatter about all of us, I’m positive,” Murray mentioned. “I attempt to avoid all of the negativity. Clearly, this has been a adverse form of season up to now in comparison with final 12 months. If you set that expectation to play effectively, and in addition to we began early final 12 months, all people’s going to really feel that and count on that.”
TIME TO EAT
Donald has an extended monitor file of success towards the Playing cards in his profession, and he can now face an Arizona offensive line lacking three starters on the inside: Justin Pugh, Rodney Hudson and Will Hernandez. Donald and his fellow Rams cross rushers have struggled to rack up massive numbers this season with a lot of their opponents targeted on a fast passing recreation, however Donald is keen so as to add to his 6 1/2 profession sacks of Murray.
Arizona linebacker Zaven Collins has grown into the affect participant the franchise anticipated when it drafted him with the No. 16 general decide in 2021. Collins is second on the workforce with 61 tackles, and he had a 30-yard interception return for a landing in final week’s loss to Seattle.
It has been an enormous soar since his rookie season, when he struggled to remain on the sector due to accidents and uneven performances. He had simply 25 tackles final season.
KYLER OR COLT
The Rams count on Murray to play though he missed apply Wednesday with a hamstring damage, however his absence wouldn’t considerably change Los Angeles’ planning, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris mentioned.
“You’ve acquired to organize for his or her system,” Morris mentioned. “Colt McCoy is his backup. Very related talent set. Clearly, Kyler is extraordinarily quick and explosive and all these issues, however they’ll do a number of the identical issues within the recreation plan. I do know Colt effectively from (a season collectively in) Washington. He’s an excellent backup. … Hopefully you don’t have to organize for the 42-yard run that (Murray) can completely explode on if Colt goes on the market. Hopefully it’s extra like a 10-yard run. Don’t inform Colt.”
WOLF OF BALL STREET
If Stafford misses the primary recreation of his Rams tenure, McVay expects to show to John Wolford, a backup in Los Angeles since 2019. Wolford made his first profession begin towards Arizona in 2020 when Jared Goff was sidelined by a thumb damage, and the undrafted Wake Forest product led the Rams to the playoffs with a victory in Week 17.
Wolford has barely performed within the NFL since injuring his neck within the first quarter of the next playoff recreation, however McVay is assured in his mastery of the Rams’ offense.
“Soccer is absolutely necessary to him,” McVay mentioned. “I feel he’s acquired an awesome capability, too. He’s acquired the athleticism, however he’s acquired the flexibility to have the ability to make quite a lot of the various kinds of throws.”
AP Sports activities Author David Brandt in Phoenix contributed.
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