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In Familiar Matchup, Cardinals and Rams Hope to Execute What They do Best

The Cardinals and Rams split their season series in 2021 and have a lot of tape against one another with which to prepare.

The rubber match between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams on Monday night in the playoffs is a battle between two teams very familiar with one another. 

This is the seventh meeting between the two since Cardinals head coach and quarterback Kyler Murray arrived in the Valley. The two split the season series with both road squads winning: Arizona in Week 4 and LA in Week 14. 

Both teams know what worked and what didn't against each other with tape as fresh as five weeks old. 

Both coaches will be using that to prepare. 

“The interesting thing is having two game films of your own to watch and see your own formations and how they play them and how they adjust to motions," Kingsbury told reporters this week. 

"It was just about a month ago that we had played (the Cardinals) last," Rams head coach Sean McVay said in a press conference. "So, you got a lot of games in your breakdowns that we'll have seen on each other."

Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks said that finding consistencies in the tape between the two games in important. He stressed that players should not be guessing what's coming, but having some keys in mind can help them understand what they are seeing. 

Not everything about this game will be similar to past meetings. The personnel is a bit altered from Week 14 on both sides. 

Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey was on the COVID-19 list that week, and he will be in the secondary on Monday. However, several of their defenders like safety Jordan Fuller and linebacker Ernest Jones, who had an interception in Arizona, are on injured reserve. 

The Cardinals may have defensive end J.J. Watt back from shoulder surgery. He is progressing this week to try and play. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph told reporters not to be surprised if Watt is out there. 

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Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, though, won't be available as he recovers from knee surgery. 

Both sides believe that in a game as big as this one, the focus, even with the familiarity, should be on executing what each team respectively thrives in over trying to outsmart the other.

"I think in big games you have to do what you do best," Joseph said. "You can't go to this game and try a new scheme that you haven't vetted or haven't tried with your players before.

"Hopefully guys execute, and that's our goal on Monday."

McVay added, "It's going to come down to the same things that are in alignment with winning football games – executing, taking care of the football, getting takeaways, tackling, breaking tackles, being good situationally in third down and (the) red area."

There will be wrinkles and, with these two play-callers, probably some new looks and plays to throw off the other side. 

But the Rams offense will continue its attempts to mess with the eyes of the Cardinals defense while Arizona will look to disguise blitzes and apply pressure. 

Both teams have struggled to play clean football lately as penalties have hurt Arizona and turnovers Los Angeles. 

The team that executes in the highest leverage moments will deservedly move on.