Arizona Cardinals battle LA Rams on Monday Night Football on ABC15

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Posted at 2:43 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 00:00:46-05

GLENDALE, AZ — The bright lights of Monday Night Football return to the Valley, and the stakes are considerable.

With a win, the Arizona Cardinals would clinch their first playoff berth since 2015. More importantly, a win against the Rams and the Cardinals would have a three-game lead in the NFC West with four games to play.

Barring a complete collapse, that would mean avoiding having to go on the road as a Wild Card team. A loss, and the division lead is down to one game and things get a lot more interesting in the final month of the season.

Here's what else is up for grabs with a win:
- Arizona would improve to 5-0 in the division. It would be just the second time since moving to the NFC West in 2002 that they posted at least five wins vs. division opponents in a single season.
- The Cardinals would sweep the season series against the Rams for the first time since 2014, and both the Rams and the 49ers in the same season for the first time since 2008.
- Arizona would improve to 5-1 in their last six Monday Night Football games.

Collin Harmon's prediction:

Despite having the best record in the NFL, this is just the second time this season the Cardinals will play in a primetime game. Maybe that's why they aren't getting the respect of a team that has dominated throughout the season? Eight of the Cardinals' 10 wins have come by double digits, including the first meeting between these two teams in LA.

The Rams didn't know what hit them in that game, as the Cardinals were far more physical at the line of scrimmage, rushing for a season-high 216 yards. The Arizona defensive secondary also made a statement, limiting the league's most productive wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, to five catches for 64 yards, both of which remain season lows.

When the Cardinals walked away with a 37-20 win in week 4, I expected the Rams to return the favor later in the season, but now I'm not so sure. The Rams are a team that seemed to have gotten worse as the season wore on. Their defense that was supposed to be a fearsome and dominant unit has been anything but. Instead, it's Vance Joseph's Cardinals defense that has been a stingy unit and ranks top 5 in the league in most categories.

Offensively, there will be no shortage of firepower on the field on Monday night, but the biggest edge to me is the way James Conner and the Cardinals are running the football right now. That can take so much pressure off Kyler Murray and keep this Rams defense guessing.

The biggest pause I have is the way the Cardinals have played at home this season, but if they want respect, this is the perfect opportunity to grab it and all but lock up the toughest division in football with the entire country watching.

I think this game comes down to the end and Matt Prater comes through, sending the Red Sea into a wild celebration.

Prediction: Cardinals 33, Rams 30

Craig Fouhy's prediction:

With a win, Arizona extends its lead to 3 games in the NFC West and propels itself to 11-2 on the season, just the sixth time in franchise history that the Cardinals have won 11 games in a season and just the third time in team history that they had 11 wins in the first 13 games of a season.

Arizona would also clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Rams and of course, would sweep the team from L.A. for the first time since 2014.

So where are we heading into Monday night? At the time of this writing, Arizona is favored by 2-and-a-half points which isn't a lot, but they do have a home-field advantage. Granted, the Cards are just 3-and-2 at home this season, but a win over the Rams in week 14 would do a lot for the team's confidence as they close out the final four games of the regular season.

Arizona is averaging 28.6 points per game while the Rams are just behind them at 28. Yes, this could be a close game, despite the Cardinals running all over the Rams in week #4, 37-20.

Defensively, the Cardinals are better than the Rams in just about every metric except for rushing yards allowed. The Cards are also +12 in turnovers while the Rams are a +3. Keep in mind also that Rams QB Matt Stafford has thrown 9 interceptions this season.

My gut tells me the Cardinals rise to the occasion and seize the night, extending their lead over the Rams to three games with just four to play.

Prediction: Cardinals 35, Rams 26