NFL Week 14 Best Bets: Rams vs. Cardinals Monday Night Football Picks

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Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

The Arizona Cardinals (10-2) look to complete the sweep of the Los Angeles Rams (8-4) in a critical matchup in the NFC West on Monday Night Football. The Cardinals, owners of the best record in the league, already beat the Rams in Los Angeles (37-20) back in Week 4. Let’s see the NFL odds.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals

Monday, December 13, 2021 – 08:15 PM EST at State Farm Stadium

Arizona (9-3 ATS) is a 3-point favorite over the Rams (5-7 ATS) at many of BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. Rams coach Sean McVay was 8-0 SU and 7-0-1 ATS against the Cardinals before that Week 4 rout at home. But the Cardinals have been a consistent performer in a season ruled by inconsistency. Do the Rams get a split or will this push the Cardinals towards a likely division title?

Cardinals: Week 4 Triumph and Recent Play

The Cardinals are 8-1 when Kyler Murray starts this season, and the team was glad to finally get their quarterback (and top wideout DeAndre Hopkins) back on Sunday in Chicago after he missed three games. In bad weather conditions, the Cardinals did not rely much on Murray’s arm. He only threw 15 passes and had 10 runs, but he still produced four total touchdowns in a 33-22 win.

The Cardinals have scored at least 31 points in all but four games this season, and half of those were the ones without Murray. The defense also intercepted Andy Dalton four times, their fifth game with at least three takeaways this season (tied with New England and Buffalo for the most).

Arizona’s best win this season is still the 37-20 victory in Los Angeles in Week 4 when the Rams were hot and a 4-point favorite. The Cardinals took the lead in the second quarter and never looked back. Only a garbage-time touchdown from the Rams made the final look closer. Murray was very efficient with over 300 total yards, no turnovers, and three receivers gained over 60 yards. The running game piled up 216 yards, the only time the Rams allowed over 200 rushing yards in the last two seasons.

The Rams were not terrible offensively against the Cardinals, but two early turnovers put them in a hole. In the second half, the defense allowed long drives, so Matthew Stafford and company only had three more possessions. They wasted one with a missed field goal and turned the ball over on downs at the Arizona 1 on a second drive.

One thing the Cardinals did well and have done well over the years is contain wide receiver, Cooper Kupp. Even in his best season ever, Kupp was held to 64 yards on 13 targets in Week 4. His 4.92 yards per target against Arizona are by far a season-low, and it is the only game this season where he did not have at least 92 yards.

Kupp has never cracked 100 yards in seven career meetings with the Cardinals, and five times he was held under 70 yards. The Rams are 7-0 this season when Kupp catches a touchdown and 1-4 when he does not. Keeping him contained is crucial to slowing this offense down.

Matthew Stafford vs. Winning Teams

Through Week 8, Matthew Stafford should have been the clear favorite for the MVP award. The Rams were 7-1, the offense was humming along, and Stafford was completing 68.9% of his passes, averaged 9.1 yards per attempt, and had a 118.0 passer rating.

But starting with that Tennessee loss in prime time where he threw back-to-back ugly interceptions, Stafford hit a slump. He was better against the 49ers, but some dropped balls hurt the offense in a 31-10 loss in prime time again. He hit some big plays for touchdowns against the Packers, but also had timely turnovers again, including a pick-six for the third week in a row.

Finally, Stafford got right against the Jaguars, an easy team to get right against. He struggled to finish drives for touchdowns early before putting the Jaguars away in the second half in a 37-7 win to stop the three-game slide. But in the last four games, Stafford has reverted to his Detroit days with 63% complete, 6.87 yards per attempt, eight touchdowns, five interceptions, and an 86.8 passer rating.

He is going to have to solve an Arizona defense that held down Cooper Kupp and limited Stafford to a season-low 4.1 YAC per completion. According to Pro Football Reference, Stafford had a season-high 11 bad throws (inaccurate passes) against the Cardinals.

The Rams brought in Stafford for big games like this even though he was 8-68 with Detroit against teams that finished the season with a winning record. So far this year, the Rams are 2-3 against winning teams, but that Indianapolis win may not hold up with the Colts at 7-6 and a tough schedule coming. Stafford has never officially beaten two winning teams in the same season in his career. This game provides another big opportunity in front of a national audience.

Prediction

The Rams are 1-3 since their “all in” moves to acquire Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. A win over Jacksonville does not exactly inspire confidence the team is back on track, but at least it was a 30-point win. It is hard to find a big flaw with this Arizona team other than the inexperience with success.

But this team can pass, run, and the defense is capable of winning a championship even with the loss of J.J. Watt. Now that Murray and Hopkins are back with a game under their belts, I like the Cardinals to show that Week 4 was not a fluke and that they are the best in the NFC West. I’ll take Arizona to cover for your NFL picks to close Week 14.

NFL Pick: Arizona -3 (-105) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Arizona -3 (-105)
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