The NFC West race is hot with all four teams seperated by just three games. The Cardinals (6-5) will host the Rams (7-4) for the first matchup between the two squads this season. Playoff hopes are on the line for the Cardinals, who are currently the seven seed in the NFC.
Kliff Kingbury’s squad is coming off a tough loss to the New England Patriots. Daryl “Moose” Johnston called that game on FOX Sports last week, and knows this game could come back to bite the Cardinals later on, especially since the NFC West is so competitive and deep this year.
“The 24 hour rule has to be in effect for Arizona this week,” Johnston said on The Brad Cesmat Show. “You’ve got to flush this game. Is it a tough loss? You bet so. You flew across the country, [which is] something that you always struggle doing, you’re in the eastern time zone, you’re going up against Bill Belichick, you should’ve won that game.”
Johnston also said he believes this Cardinals team is on the cusp of being a really good team that won’t have many bad losses in the future, as they have this year in games against the Panthers, Dolphins, Lions, and Patriots. The development of Kyler Murray is the key to sustained success for this team as the team’s discipline and charisma grow.
“[Kyler Murray’s] athleticism is the thing that jumps out to you right away,” Johnston said. “I know personality wise, he’s a quiet guy and I think that’s a good thing.”
He also compared Murray to Troy Aikman in the sense that he’s the voice of the team but doesn’t feel like it’s his job to be the loudest with the media.
Entering this week’s matchup, Rams head coach Sean McVay is 6-0 against the Cardinals, while averaging almost 30 points per game.
NBCSports.com NFL columnist Peter King likes what he sees from the Rams defense this season, but has concerns about Jared Goff and recent turnover struggles.
“They [The Rams] have been a little more efficient in the past,” King said on The Brad Cesmat Show. “The Rams have been better than the Cardinals for much of the past three years… And now they’re much closer.”
King believes the teams are more evenly matched now because of the dynamic weapons the Cardinals have on offense. But there is still plenty of room for improvement that could put them over the top.
“I think that right now that they have enough weapons,” King said. “I would like to see them get a couple more players on the offensive line and I’d really like to see one more playmaker on defense on that team.”
There are five games left in the NFL season. The Cardinals are a playoff team right now, but they need some big wins in order to make it to the middle of January.