Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams: Wolford can lead the Rams to the playoffs

Aaron Donald Rams
Aaron Donald is in the running for defensive player of the year

It is all to play for in LA as the Rams and Cardinals face off. The winner guarantees a spot in the playoffs and Dave Gray thinks the Rams have the edge...

"Sean McVay is a superb coach and with a week to get him ready he will be giving Wolford every chance to succeed."

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, 21:25 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event

The Cardinals head to Los Angeles to face the Rams and for both teams it is win and they are in the playoffs. LA can still get in with a loss but for the Arizona it is absolutely must win.

Wolford can be a decent stand in

The big news for the Rams is that starting quarterback Jared Goff will miss out with a thumb injury. John Wolford will step in for his first start in the NFL - he did play in the now defunct AAF for the Arizona Hotshots. He did have some success there but it is, of course, a completely different level. Wolford isn't an elite runner but he does have some legs and can be a threat on the ground - a 35 yard touchdown was his best run for the Hotshots.

It is really hard to say what we will get from him. He has not thrown a pass in the league before. But Sean McVay is a superb coach and with a week to get him ready he will be giving him every chance to succeed. I do not think the drop off from Goff will be so significant that the Rams can't still get the win they need.

Rams to lean on runners

We have seen it before with Goff, so it would be no surprise if McVay chooses to go with a run heavy offence. The Cardinals give up the fifth most yards per carry in the league so expect to see plenty from Darrell Henderson and if he can play, rookie Cam Akers. Both have shown they can carry a load this season and should have a great shot of a big game in this one.

When these two teams met a few weeks ago both backs found the end zone. If Henderson is the only healthy back then he should get 20+ carries here and he has shown he can convert that into yards. He is currently at 4.5 yards per carry and he could well have had a 1000 yard season if it wasn't for the Rams' preference for a committee backfield.

Murray needs to get running again

The Cardinals have really let a great start to the season slip. They have just two wins in their past six and those came against the Eagles and the Giants. Kyler Murray, at one point thought of as an MVP candidate, just hasn't really carried that early season form through. They really need to get him running the ball more often for him to be as effective as he can be. When these two teams met he put up one of his worst passing games of the season. He had three touchdowns but that covered up that he was at just 4.4 yards per attempt - his second lowest number of the season so far.

Rams defence has been superb

By DVOA the Rams have the fifth best defence in the league - and they have only been improving as the season has gone on. Aaron Donald is once again a defensive player of the year frontrunner. Like Patrick Mahomes he can sometimes suffer because his own standards are so high. He has an excellent 13.5 sacks this season and that doesn't even show just how much of a nuisance he is every game for opposing quarterbacks.

Brandon Staley, the Rams first year defensive coordinator, has really taken them to a new level. The team lost a number of notable players from last year's team but you'd never know it. Whether it is the stars such as Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey or some of the lesser known players, they have really caused problems for all the teams they have faced.
Sean McVay.jpg

Rams can win a close one

It is obviously tough for a team to lose their quarterback, and this may be one of those moments where we appreciate what Goff actually does, but for me I do not think he has been playing very well all season and it is hard to believe there will be a huge drop off. Wolford, based on his AAF days, looks capable of filling in in McVay's offence. They can lean on the run game and let Wolford just do enough to get them over the line.

There is pressure on both teams, but the Rams can still get into the playoffs if the Bears lose, regardless of the outcome of this game. The jury is still out on Kliff Kingsbury as a coach and I think McVay can find a way to lead the Rams past them here. Take the Rams and the points in what looks to be a close game.

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