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Key Differences Between First Two Cardinals-Rams Matchups

The Cardinals established the run and took the ball away in a Week 4 victory over the Rams.

The Arizona Cardinals' two matchups against the Los Angeles Rams represent two different stages of their season. 

In Arizona's Week 4 win, the team was mostly healthy and had perhaps their most impressive win of the year 37-20 at SoFi Stadium.

That was its fourth win in a 7-0 start. 

The second game was a 30-23 loss to L.A. in Glendale, the beginning of a four losses in five games skid. 

Penalties and turnovers marred the performance, and Arizona missed several key contributors like defensive end J.J. Watt and running back Chase Edmonds. Both are expected to on Monday. 

Round 3 means much more than either of the two previous games. The Cardinals visit the Rams on Monday night in the Wild Card round of the playoffs at 6:15 p.m. Arizona time. 

Arizona's 2020 season ended in the same building, and Monday provides the team a chance for poetic justice. 

Here are some of the key differences from the first two matchups:

Run game

The Cardinals had their best rushing game of the season in Week 4 by a wide margin. Edmonds carried the ball 12 times for 120 yards while James Conner contributed 50 and a two touchdowns.

Of course, it's important to note that 83 of Edmonds' yards came on one drive in the fourth quarter when the Cardinals had a big lead. He had runs of 14 and 54 yards on that possession and the team had 97 of its 216 rushing yards in the game in that drive.

The offense did utilize both backs harmoniously, which is something that was not an option down the stretch. The two have suited up together in only one game since Week 9. 

Conner is listed as questionable for Monday, but reports indicate he will be ready. 

Quarterback Kyler Murray led the team with 61 in the second game and had 39 in the first game. 

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The Rams won't have either of their excellent starting safeties in Monday's game -- Taylor Rapp or Jordan Fulller -- due to injuries. Edmonds could have some explosive runs if he can break into the second level. 

Turnovers

The winning team in each of the previous two games won the turnover battle 2-0. 

Both teams scored touchdowns after each takeaway. 

In Week 14, the Cardinals' early momentum was stopped by an interception in the red zone. 

Murray's first-quarter pass to the end zone was tipped and caught by linebacker Ernest Jones. Arizona led 3-0 at that point and had a chance to go up by two scores. 

The Cardinals had the fifth-best turnover margin in the NFL this season, and even while stumbling down the stretch, giving the ball away was not a huge issue. 

Arizona had one turnover in the final three games. 

The Rams had the sixth-worst turnover margin in the league over the final three weeks. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had seven interceptions in that span. 

L.A., though, had the 10th-most takeaways per game in 2021. 

Red-zone success

The Cardinals scored three touchdowns and two field goals in five red-zone trips in Week 4. 

They scored only two touchdowns in the red zone in Week 14 in four attempts. 

The Cardinals have struggled to finish drives with six points recently. They have not had a red-zone conversion percentage above 50% in a game since Week 11. 

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had seven red-zone touchdowns in 10 games this year, but he has been out since Week 14 and he won't play on Monday.