NFL Week 13 Preview: Rams at Cardinals
The Los Angeles Rams visit the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
Coverage by: Mike Cahill
Matchup: Los Angeles Rams offense vs. Arizona Cardinals defense
- QB Jared Goff vs. Cardinals blitz – The last time these two teams met in 2017, Goff had his worst performance of the season against the blitz. He did complete six of his 10 passes against the blitz, but he averaged only 5.3 yards per attempt and threw an interception (his only interception against the blitz in 2017). Goff has been blitzed on 101 of his 388 drop backs in 2017, going 56-of-93 for 834 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 110.2 (well above the 89.7 league average). He will have plenty of opportunities to redeem his Week 7 performance with the Cardinals blitzing on 36 percent of pass plays (league average is 30 percent) while creating pressure on 35.8 percent of those blitzes. Goff can win the game by beating the blitz as shown by his Week 3, Week 9, and Week 10 performances against the blitz, where he went 16-of-22 for 317 yards, five touchdowns, and a passer rating of 154.4 while outscoring opponents 125-63.
- HB Todd Gurley vs. Cardinals run defense – One of Gurley’s highest graded games of the season came against the Cardinals in Week 7 with an 84.4, where he forced his most missed tackles in the run game for a single game with four. He also added another missed tackle in the passing game leading his way to the third-highest elusive rating among running backs for Week 7 at 55.1. Since that game, the Cardinals have the second lowest missed tackle rate combined as a defense, missing on 9.6 percent of tackle attempts while Gurley is forcing a missed tackle on 16 percent of carries.
- WR Josh Reynolds vs. CB Tramon Williams – Reynolds earned his first start of the season in Week 12 where he earned a 74.0 game grade with a passer rating of 122.9 on his six targets. He will see a lot of Williams with Cooper Kupp sliding into the slot and Sammy Watkins drawing attention from Patrick Peterson. His opponent has the 16th-highest coverage grade among cornerbacks at 84.5 and is allowing the eighth lowest passer rating into his coverage at 55.6 and averaging a catch allowed every 12.9 coverage snaps on 232 total coverage snaps.
PFFELO Ranking: 23
Coverage by: Mark Chichester
Matchup: Arizona Cardinals offense vs. Los Angeles Rams defense
- WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. CB Nickell Robey-Coleman – Through 12 weeks of the season, the 34-year-old Fitzgerald has easily been the team’s MVP, and at this point, it’s hard to imagine how the offense would have functioned without him. Through 11 games, Fitzgerald has seen 101 targets, 51 more targets than the next wide receiver, and he’s caught 71.3 percent of the passes thrown his way for 780 yards and four touchdowns, all the highest marks among his teammates. Fitzgerald has also been the team’s best red zone receiving threat and leads his team with 12 red zone targets. He’s caught eight of those targets for 81 yards and all four of his touchdowns, generating a passer rating of 125.1, once again the highest mark among his comrades. With nine of those red zone targets coming from the slot position, the player looking to keep the veteran out of the end zone this week will be slot cornerback Nickell Robey Coleman, who has allowed just 0.46 yards per coverage snap and a passer rating of just 54.5 when covering the slot this year, the third and fifth-best marks among cornerbacks, respectively.
- QB Blaine Gabbert vs. the blitz – In his two games as starter, Gabbert has been serviceable when throwing from a clean pocket and has posted a passer rating of 92.8 on such throws, 18th among signal-callers. However, when blitzed, Gabbert has thrown both of his interceptions, and that rating has fallen all the way to just 19.2. He must improve against a Rams defense that has blitzed on 37.3 percent of passing snaps this year, the fourth most among the league’s teams.
- RB D.J. Foster vs. LB Mark Barron – With running back Kerwynn Williams set to miss time with a rib injury, D.J. Foster will likely see more snaps this week, especially in passing situations. Foster played 18 snaps on offense in Week 12, the highest mark of his season so far, and he caught all three of his catchable targets for 18 yards at an average of 1.38 yards per route run, 13th best among backs last week. However, could be in for a tough matchup against Mark Barron, who’s coverage grade of 82.5 is currently 11th best among linebackers.