NFL 2017 Week 7: Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams preview and prediction

New-look Cardinals will look for their 2nd win in a row, as they fly across the pond to take on the 4-2 Los Angeles Rams

The Cardinals were able to secure their 3rd win of the season, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-33. RB Adrian Peterson made his debut for the team in impressive fashion, rushing for over 100 yards and two TDs. The defense allowed a late push from Tampa Bay backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the 2nd half, but they were able to hold the Buccaneers off enough to secure their lead. The Cardinals will travel to London on Sunday to play the Rams. 

Los Angeles put up an impressive performance last Sunday on the road against the stingy Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The special teams unit drove this victory, highlighted by an opening kickoff return by WR Pharoh Cooper and K Greg Zuerlein hitting two important FGs, again proving that this is one of the best special teams units in the NFL. They will need another good performance this week in their critical NFC West matchup against the Cardinals. 

Revamped offensive line

The Arizona Cardinals offensive line play drastically improved last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, opening up holes for the run game and giving QB Carson Palmer time in the pocket. It looked to be a mixture of things, between the addition of RB Adrian Peterson and the return of OL DJ Humphries and Alex Boone. Protecting Palmer will be crucial to this team’s postseason chances, and the test won’t get any easier against a Rams front that includes guys like Aaron Donald, Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson looked like the “old AP” last week, rushing for 134 yards and two TDs, which sparked the Cardinals offense. The change of scenery might be all the 32-year-old needed to regain his old form, and with the pro-longed absence of All-Pro RB David Johnson, Peterson will remain a pivotal part of this Cardinals offense. He could see a similar workload and yardage total this week, as the Rams have the 29th worst run defense, yielding 139.5 rush yards per game to opponents. 

Rams scoring ability

What a difference a year makes. The Rams have gone from the league’s worst scoring offense in 2016 (14ppg) to the league’s best scoring offense through the first six weeks of the 2017 (29.8ppg). HC Sean McVay has done a good job with 2nd year QB Jared Goff, and with new weapons and a re-energized Todd Gurley, this offense looks primed to carry the team. They are averaging over 359 total yards per game, while converting 44.3% of their third downs – ranking 4th in the NFL. They will look to keep things rolling against a Cardinals defense that has under-performed
thus far in 2017. 

OLB Chandler Jones, ARI vs OT Andrew Whitworth, LAR

Tied for 4th in the NFL in sacks, Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones is showing why this organization made a blockbuster trade for him. Jones has become a force off of the edge, recording three of his seven sacks in the last two weeks. QB Jared Goff has looked vastly improved, but the notion that he struggles with pressure still remains. It will be critical for LT Andrew Whitworth to contain Jones in this matchup, keeping him away from their young QB.

Fantasy Football Tip: TE Gerald Everett, LAR

If you are looking for a super sleeper at the TE position, Rams TE Gerald Everett could be your man this week. The Cardinals have not been great defending the TE through the first six weeks, giving up 31 receptions, 324 yards and three TDs to opposing TEs. Don’t expect Everett to get many yards or receptions, but there is a decent chance he could squeeze in a TD against this defense. 

Betting Tip: Cardinals (+3.5)

On a neutral field, while both teams are traveling out of the country and coming in off of two good wins… I’ll take the team getting the points. In fact, the Cardinals are getting the crucial 3.5, which still covers a loss by a late FG. The Cardinals have covered the spread six out of the last eight times they have played LA, so I would role with them again. Arizona +3.5 is the one of the better bets of the week. 

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 31-28 Los Angeles Rams

This will be one of the games of the week, as the London crowd should get a doozy. The Cardinals are much more intriguing as a team after the addition of Adrian Peterson and the return of two key offensive linemen. As impressive as the Rams have been offensively, they have not been as impressive on the other side of the ball. I think both teams light up the scoreboard, but the Cardinals will pull this one out with a late FG, 31-28.

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Chris Cook

Graduate of Hood College (BA '15 and M.B.A '17)

Ex-college hooper

NFL contributor for RealSport101