Focal points of Cardinals-Rams Week 7 matchup from the numbers
PHOENIX — There is loads of optimism surrounding the Arizona Cardinals, a fact that seemed impossible after their start to the season.
After Adrian Peterson’s huge debut, however, there is a new sense of the Cardinals keeping their season alive.
The team, now in London, prepares for their matchup with the Los Angeles Rams in a key NFC West showdown.
Here are some of the numbers to know heading into the game.
Quarterback Carson Palmer completed 18-of-22 passes (81.8 percent) for 283 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 139.4 rating last week. In his past four meetings, he has 1,251 pass yards (312.8 per game), seven touchdowns and three interceptions for a 92.5 rating. Palmer has 294 career touchdown passes and surpassed Hall of Famer Warren Moon (291) for 12th most in NFL history.
According to Pro Football Focus, Palmer worked the intermediate level (10-to-19 yards) extremely well, going 11-of-11 for 206 yards and three touchdowns in that range, hitting a number of seam routes for big gains.
Since Week 3, Palmer has seven touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns last week in his team debut. He has 50 career games with 100-plus rush yards, becoming the ninth player in NFL history to do so. Peterson has 475 rush yards (118.8 per game) and four touchdowns in four meetings with the Rams.
Peterson played 48 snaps last week (74 percent) and was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Peterson is the oldest player (32) in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in a debut for a new team.
It is Peterson’s eighth career NFC Offensive Player of the Week award, the most Offensive Player of the Week selections among non-quarterbacks in the NFL.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald led the team with 10 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in Week 6. He has 14,854 career yards and surpassed Steve Smith Sr. (14,731) on the all-time list. Fitzgerald is looking for his third NFC West game in a row with a touchdown.
Fitzgerald needs 146 yards on Sunday to reach 15,000 career receiving yards. Growing up in Minnesota, he idolized Randy Moss and Cris Carter. It would a great milestone for Fitz.
Pass rusher Chandler Jones ranks fourth in the NFC with seven sacks. He has 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in three career meetings.
NFL Leaders – Sacks (2015-17)
Rank Player (Team) Sacks
1 Chandler Jones (AZ) 31.5
2 Khalil Mack (Oak) 30.0
3 Von Miller (Den) 29.5
4 Melvin Ingram (LAC) 26.0
5 Everson Griffen (Min) 25.5
Safety Antoine Bethea aims for his fourth game in a row with an interception. He’s tied for second in the NFL with three interceptions.
Safety Tyvon Branch leads the NFC with 52 tackles. Has 26 tackles and three passes defensed in his past three games on the road.
Branch continues to make splash plays, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cardinals try to re-sign him during the season or make him a priority going into the offseason.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu has 19 tackles and one interception.
Mathieu has played the most snaps on the Cardinals defense (408, 98.5 percent of snaps). Unfortunately. he only has one interception and zero passes defensed. He enters an interesting situation in his Cardinals career considering the amount of money they owe him coming up in March. It’s close to $28 million in salary and bonuses including about nine million in dead money, which can spread out over two years.
Cornerback Tramon Williams had an interception in Week 6, his first for the franchise.
Williams, 34, has only played 38 snaps on defense after being inactive for one game not playing in the two others. He had an interception last week but also gave up the 41-yard pass to Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans. He provides a veteran presence and has played in a lot of big games over the course of his career with the Green Bay Packers.
Dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon led the team with eight tackles last week.
Quarterback Jared Goff has 580 pass yards (290 per game), three touchdowns and two interceptions for a 85.4 rating in his past two games against the division. Goff has an 85-plus rating in five of his last six games.
Goff has done a 180 from last season and a lot of credit should go to Rams head coach Sean McVay for him looking like a completely different quarterback in year two.
Running back Todd Gurley ranks second in the NFL with 766 scrimmage yards and is tied for first with seven scrimmage touchdowns. Gurley has 363 scrimmage yards (90.8 per game) & four touchdowns (three rush, one reception) in his past four against the NFC West. In his last four games, the former Georgia standout has 393 rush yards (98.3 per game) and four touchdowns.
Gurley is a three-down back, not only rushing between the tackles but also catching passes out of the backfield. He becomes a dual-threat back in the Rams offense.
Wide receiver Robert Woods has 26 receptions for 380 yards (95 per game) and a touchdown in his past four games against the NFC West.
Tramon Williams will likely draw this assignment on Woods, a pick-up from the Bills in the offseason.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp ranks third among NFL rookies with 265 receiving yards and is tied for second with two touchdown catches.
Kupp dropped to the third round and is one of the better slot receivers in the league, bearing in mind he’s a rookie.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin had 10 receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown in the last game at Twickenham (October of 2016 against the New York Giants). The Rams paid him a lot of money.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald had a sack and a forced fumble last week. He has 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the past three meetings.
This’ll be the toughest matchup for A.Q. Shipley this season. The Cardinals need to double-team him so he doesn’t create havoc in the backfield with tackles for loss. Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Connor Barwin will bring inside and outside pressure.
In 10 career meetings, Quinn has nine sacks and three forced fumbles.
Linebacker Mark Barron is tied for third in the NFC with 48 tackles. He led the team with eight tackles and had a sack in Week 6. He has 23 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception in his last four games.
Barron plays a similar position as Bucannon, could be the spy for Adrian Peterson on Sunday and is a good open-field tackler.
Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman had an interception last week. He has three interceptions and a forced fumble in his past five games against NFC West opponents.
Coleman made some comments to the LA Times after Sunday’s game in Jacksonville.
So when Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was asked whether the addition of running back Adrian Peterson to the Cardinals changed anything as the Rams prepare to play them in London, Robey-Coleman did not parse his words.
“Adrian Peterson is not Adrian Peterson in 2008, 2009,” Robey said in the postgame locker room as a few stunned teammates looked on and listened. “He’s not the same Adrian Peterson, and I think everybody knows that.”
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson had an interception and a career-high six passes defensed in the Oct. 12 meeting the teams had last year.
Some of the numbers and information are courtesy of the NFL Media and the Cardinals.