Today I am going to Twickenham to watch the Cardinals vs the Rams and I can’t wait! I’ve been to Wembley three times to watch NFL, meaning this will be my visit to Twickenham to watch it. Here is my preview of the game, I’ll be analysing each team’s season so far, what both team’s need to do to win and my prediction of the final score. Let’s start with the “home” team; Los Angeles Rams.
So far this season, the Rams have been one of the most surprising teams in the league. They sit atop their division with a 4-2 record and have been playing some of the most exciting football in the league. This dramatic shift in fortunes for the Rams is down to one reason. They fired longtime head coach Jeff Fisher and hired Sean McVay as his replacement. McVay used to be the offensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins between 2014-2016. McVay, when he was hired, became the youngest Head Coach in NFL history at only 30 years old. Fisher had been the Rams coach since 2012 and when he was fired, it was an emotional moment for the entire organisation. If you need proof of this, I encourage you to watch the last season of “All or Nothing”. It’s an Amazon Prime documentary series showcasing their 2016 season. McVay has completely transformed this team, he has taken former number one overall pick Jared Goff from the edge of becoming a bust to a capable NFL starter, he has transformed former Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley from looking like he had concrete in his boots to looking like he’s been shot out of a cannon.
So far this season, the Rams have made a massive improvement all along their offence. They got wide receiver Sammy Watkins in a trade with the Buffalo Bills to add an element of explosion to their passing attack, they signed offensive linemen John Sullivan and Andrew Whitworth to give Goff some much-needed protection and then drafted rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Jerald Everett to help their passing game. These additions along with McVay’s system and skill as an offensive coordinator have helped the Rams. It now means Goff has more time to throw, with receivers that can get open and a running game that’s extremely effective. This has seen the Rams flip from being last in points in 2016 to first so far this season.
Coming into this game the Rams sit atop the division with a 4-2 record, which already equals their win total from last season. In order for the Rams to win this game, they need to establish their passing attack. The Cardinals rank 22th in total yards per game on defence, so if the Rams can successfully protect Goff from Arizona’s pass rush. Whilst also stopping Adrian Peterson from running right through them will give the Rams the much-needed recipe for success.
The Arizona Cardinals are 3-3 heading to Twickenham. Before the season started, Bruce Arians their head coach said “It’s not a one year window” for his team to win the Super Bowl. This was something I didn’t agree with, especially due to the plague of injuries they have had, the rising age of their superstar players Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald and the lacking resemblance of an offensive line. With six weeks of the season though, I am still pessimistic on the Cardinals Super Bowl chances. This is because they have won half their games so far. With two out of their three wins coming against the 49ers and Colts, who in my opinion along with the Browns are the dregs of the league. This means I can’t put much stock into their record due to these wins, meanwhile, they have been manhandled in their losses to the Lions, Cowboys and Eagles. All three of which could capably become playoff teams by the end of the season.
Now, if you are a casual Cardinals fan or so-called “expert” on Twitter. Your heart will have sunk in week 1 when your saw star running back David Johnson leave with a wrist injury only to find out he is out for the season. So, seeing your General Manager Steve Keim acquire NFL legend and future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson from the Saints would have made you jump for joy. He has enjoyed a bright start in Glendale, in his first game last week against the Buccaneers, he had 134 yards and two touchdowns. To give Cardinals fans more confidence, the last time Peterson played in London was in 2013 for the Vikings. He had 140 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns as the Vikings beat the Steelers 34-27. I would be excited to watch him today, as Peterson showed last week he’s still an effective running back and the Rams have the 29th ranked run defence. He will have a big game at Twickenham.
With their running game being on a knife edge due to the lack of offensive line for the Cardinals but the lack of Rams rushing defence. The success for Arizona could come down to their ariel attack. This could play into their hands as they have the 3rd ranked passing attack in terms of yards per game with 286.2. Carson Palmer has looked very streaky this season with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions so Arizona will need him to exude confidence and consistency to help them win. The Cardinals will need to have Peterson succeed running the ball, allowing Palmer more options to throw the ball when using play-action. By doing these things, the Cardinals will be confident in returning to Phoenix with a victory.
In conclusion, I believe the Rams will win this game continuing their hot start to the season. The Rams rank first in points per game with 29.8 and will surpass this mark at Twickenham. Jared Goff will throw for three touchdowns and 300 yards as the Cardinals put up a valiant effort but due to the Rams quick scoring offence, Adrian Peterson will have 2 touchdowns but not get as many attempts to run the ball, as the Cardinals will be in catch up early on. This will force the Cardinals into throwing the ball to keep pace with Los Angeles providing more opportunities for Palmer to turnover possession. This all NFC West game will end 31-23 to the Rams.