Tonight’s Monday Night Football prediction features two NFC West rivals atop the NFC standings. The preseason darling Los Angeles Rams head to the upstart Arizona Cardinals to close out Week 14. Let’s dive into Rams vs. Cardinals for this prime-time matchup and determine the best pick for this NFL betting prediction.
Monday Night Football Pick: Rams vs. Cardinals prediction
We close Week 14 with two teams that have battled for years and look to renew their rivalry. Los Angeles entered the 2021 season expecting a Super Bowl run with a brand new QB and more offensive weapons than years past. Fast forward to today, and the Rams are slightly struggling, losing three in a row before beating the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
Arizona had their injury hiccups this season but held pat at the top of the NFC West standings when it seemed the division was the Rams’ to lose. QB Kyler Murray has dealt with injuries, but the Cardinals have found ways to keep winning. Which one of these NFC West juggernauts will make for the correct pick in tonight’s Monday Night Football prediction? For those who love fantasy football, pay attention to my prediction, as it could sway your mind about your Monday night DFS lineups.
Are we surprised that the most hyped team of the preseason is struggling to win their division? After all, this is the NFL, and both unpredictability and upheaval are the norms for this league. The Rams are two games behind the Cardinals in the division standings but own the top Wild Card spot.
Their rushing attack has taken a hit compared to years past with their newly acquired starting quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Stafford has struggled at times, and the Rams have decided to live and die by the passing attack.
The City of Angels’ advanced metrics
Offensively, Los Angeles is one of the best teams in the league. They have a top-three offense bolstered by their aerial assault. The Rams passing attack ranks sixth in DVOA (Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric) and second in EPA (expected points added). Although the Los Angeles run game is not what it has been in years past, it is still a respectable unit.
Their running attack comes in at 10th in DVOA and 17th in EPA. When you have an elite quarterback in Stafford who ranks sixth overall in the EPA + CPOE (completion percentage over expected), the need to run the ball becomes less critical.
On defense, the Rams are who we thought they would be. They come in at sixth in total DVOA and ninth in defensive EPA. Much of this is due to their ability to neutralize opponents’ run games. Los Angeles is No. 2 in rush DVOA and fourth in rush EPA.
The secondary ranks slightly worse at 11th and 13th, respectively. In addition, cornerback Jalen Ramsey will miss tonight’s game due to health and safety protocols, and it would behoove the Cardinals to attack the Rams’ secondary. Will LA continue their bounce back and show Arizona why they are the favorite pick for tonight’s Monday Night Football prediction?
Birds of a Feather, Fly Together
What a difference a year makes. Last season, Arizona was highly inconsistent, and you never knew which team would show up from week to week. This season, the Cardinals are winning games without key players and in dominating fashion.
Even missing superstar QB Murray for three games couldn’t stop Arizona from going 2-1 and winning two games against divisional rivals. Tonight, they’ll try to keep their undefeated divisional record intact against the Rams to be a viable pick for this Monday Night Football prediction.
Last season, everyone raved about the Cardinals’ offense. Murray is an elite dual-threat option that makes defending him nearly impossible. You can make different assumptions about this offense depending on what advanced metrics you focus on.
According to DVOA, the Arizona offense ranks 12th overall with the No. 2 passing attack. However, they own the 25th-ranked run game. When focusing on EPA, however, the offense gets significant boosts. The total unit ranks second. The passing attack is the best in the league, and the run game comes in at 13th. This season, Murray is also the top-rated quarterback regarding the EPA + CPOE composite.
Defensively, Arizona is no slouch either. Last season, the Cardinals were not stingy and gave up their fair share of explosive plays to opponents. This season, they have a top-three defense led by their shutdown secondary. The Arizona pass defense ranks third in DVOA and first overall in EPA. It’s the front seven for the Cardinals that could use a little help.
They come in with the 15th-ranked run defense according to DVOA and 11th regarding EPA. Considering the Rams were known as the best run-first offense last season, and the Cardinals’ lesser defensive strength against the run, we should probably expect a more balanced attack coming from the Rams in this one. With two stout offenses and defenses for both teams, which side is the one to pick for this Monday Night Football prediction?
Rams vs. Cardinals pick and prediction
The Cardinals come into this game with the best record in the league and a perfect 4-0 division record. They already beat the Rams in Los Angeles earlier this season, 37-20. We know how the NFL goes. With the injury and COVID concerns for the Rams pushing this line to -3, the divisional road dog becomes that much more enticing.
The Rams have an explosive offense. They’ve also had plenty of time to evaluate this Cardinals team and learn from their mistakes from the first matchup. Finishing the season with a perfect divisional record is challenging, especially in the rugged NFC West. As my pick in this Monday Night Football prediction, I’ll take the points with the Rams at +3. My projections show this as an outright win for Los Angeles by a score of 28-24.