After not playing a snap during the preseason, it took the Los Angeles Rams offense some time to get going. But once it did, the Raiders didn’t stand a chance. Fresh off their first division title in 14 years and stocked with a roster of Pro Bowl players, the Rams are trying to take advantage of a championship window that’s wide open. They looked every bit the contender on Monday, scoring 23 unanswered points in the second half to pull away for the win. While the Rams are near the top of the heap, the Arizona Cardinals could be at the bottom, and the teams square off in Week 2.
Watch this Week 2 regular season matchup live on Sunday, September 16, 2018, at 4:05 p.m. ET at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Arizona Cardinals OFF
Los Angeles Rams OFF
Over/Under (Check Back Later)
Given the direction of the teams and with the Rams being at home, they’ll likely be big favorites when the line surfaces. The Rams had a late Monday night game and the odds have yet to hit the board, but this game could easily have the largest spread of any Week 2 game.
Andre Smith – With their offensive line down one starter after center A.Q. Shipley shredded his knee in the preseason, the Cards could be short another in starting right tackle Smith, who exited Sunday’s game with an elbow injury. The group was pushed around by the Redskins and did little to help the output. The Cards managed only 213 yards of offense and four of their 15 running plays were stopped for negative yardage.
Pharoh Cooper – The Rams enjoyed remarkably good health last season, but they could be down a kick returner after Cooper exited Monday’s game with an ankle injury. Also a backup receiver, he didn’t play an offensive snap against the Raiders, but his value is in the return game. He was a first-team All-Pro pick last season after averaging 27.4 yards per kickoff return with a touchdown. He totaled 75 yards on three kickoff returns Monday night and returned two punts for 12 yards before going down. Cooper Kupp took his place in the return game.
Matchup to Watch
The Cards were manhandled by the Redskins up front and the offense generated very little. They managed just 36 total yards and two first downs in the first half with two of their three full drives going three-and-out. The Cardinals had the ball for just seven minutes in the first half. They performed better in the second half but by that time the game was out of reach.
Now they face a Rams front that has reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh and underrated Michael Brockers. The group held up well against an early Oakland push and they took over in the second half. The Rams defense allowed just 141 yards over the final two quarters with a sack and continued pressure on Derek Carr. They also pitched a shutout allowing the offense to come back from a 13-10 halftime deficit to claim the 33-13 victory.
The Rams swept the season series last year for the first time since 2012, outscoring the Cardinals 65-16. And many feel the Cardinals will be worse this season as they go through a transition with a new coach and quarterback.
While the Rams scored 33 and 32 points in the two victories, more than their season average, they actually played stellar defense in the two matchups. LA blanked the Cards in the first meeting and knocked Carson Palmer into retirement. Donald got two of the Rams seven sacks in the second meeting and they held the Cards scoreless for five and a half quarters before Arizona hit paydirt in the second quarter of the second game.
Free ATS Pick
It took the Rams a half to get going and they dominated the Raiders over the final 30 minutes. Over that time they played the way most expect them to. The offense churned out the yards and points behind Todd Gurley and Jared Goff, and the defense held Oakland scoreless with Marcus Peters getting a pick-six.
They’ll likely stumble at some point along the way, but the Rams are built to win. They added pieces to their defense and the offense is really good. The Cards have talent and they aren’t as bad as what we saw last week, but I can’t see them winning this game, no matter how hard I try. And given the recent history, it’s likely the home team covers.
NFL Betting Odds: Rams 34, Cardinals 17
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