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Rams vs. Cardinals Wild Card Round: 3 Bold Predictions

Here are three bold predictions ahead of the Rams vs. Cardinals Wild Card Round matchup.

When the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford, they needed an upgrade. Jared Goff was not able to propel the franchise toward achieving their ultimate goal – the Super Bowl. After 18 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, the Rams have a quarterback that has more big-play potential, but also has a fundamental flaw of turning over the football rather loosely. Against a divisional rival, with their season on the line, the play of Stafford will ultimately dictate how far the Rams can go.

With a do-or-die game on the line, here are three bold predictions ahead of Monday night’s showdown:

1. Stafford throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns

Taking turnovers aside, this will likely be a shootout-type game. With Stafford facing off against Kyler Murray and the high-flying Cardinals offense, the pressure to score will be on the Rams from the start. Yes, Sony Michel and the rushing game will play their part, but this game starts and ends with the play of Stafford and he knows it.

"Every time I step on a field, I'm proving myself," Stafford said. "This is a team game, no question, but at the same time, do I know that when the quarterback plays a good game, you've got a better chance to win? Absolutely."

If Stafford can keep the ball safe and produce at a high level, through the air, the Rams will have their best chance to win this game. However, it needs to be a balanced passing attack and Sean McVay needs to keep Stafford inside the game plan from start to finish.

2. The Rams’ defensive stars show their worth under the bright lights of the playoffs

There are four players that can make or break this game. Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd. In the star position, Ramsey will need to limit the Cardinals' quick passing game and play an outside spy role to keep Murray from extending plays. Obviously, Donald is extremely important in shutting down the Arizona rushing attack led by James Conner. On the edges, Miller and Floyd have to strike an important balance of putting consistent pressure on Murray, while not allowing him to escape the pocket and make magic happen with his legs. Look for a turnover forced from Ramsey, 2.5 sacks from the Rams' edge rushers and two or more tackles for loss from Donald in a defensive showing from the Rams’ stars.

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3. Murray's dual-threat ability helps lift him to a notable performance

Murray look destined to be in the MVP conversion prior to going down with injury at the mid-point of the season. As for the Rams in how they match up against the dual-threat quarterback, L.A. performed much worse against the passing game this year than they did against the rushing game. Certainly, limiting Murray’s rushes and Conner’s scoring ability is important, but the Rams will need to knock Murray out of rhythm from a throwing perspective. This is the chance for Murray to prove his worth to the Cardinals, and the NFL which is something Kliff Kingsbury recognizes well.

"I think this is what he's been waiting for, for three years," Kingsbury said of Murray. "He's a guy who wants to be playing for something and knows he's playing for something. This is his first shot at the playoffs, and I expect him to probably play the best game of his career."

If Murray can throw for more than 300 yards, the Cardinals' chances of winning this game drastically increase. But he'll have to overcome the firepower the Rams possess across their defensive line. However, if Murray shows up and shows out as he did in their October matchup, this is a game that would bode well for Arizona.

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