The Athletic’s Jones: Cardinals-Rams in Week 3 a must-watch game in 2022

May 20, 2022, 10:45 AM | Updated: 11:23 am
A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals runs after his catch from David Long #22 of the Los Angeles...
A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals runs after his catch from David Long #22 of the Los Angeles Rams during a 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

There are narratives galore when taking a look at the Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 slate of games.

But of the 17 matchups, The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones believes the team’s Week 3 meeting against the Los Angeles Rams stands out above the rest.

The Cardinals’ first three games are tough — Chiefs, Raiders and Rams — and four of their first five games are against 2021 playoff teams. We’re highlighting the Rams matchup because of how last season unraveled for Arizona. It started with a loss to the Rams on “Monday Night Football” on Dec. 13, and ended with a loss to them in the wild-card playoff round.

It’s no secret that Arizona floundered in the second half of the season after rattling off seven consecutive wins.

And while cracks in the armor started to show in a loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 8, it was Arizona’s defeat on MNF in Week 14 that really sent the team spiraling.

Including the Rams loss, Arizona went 1-5 to finish the season before turning in a dud of an NFC Wild Card performance against the same Rams squad.

Instead of reliving the pain of those losses, the Cardinals are hoping for a repeat performance from last year’s Week 4 matchup against L.A.

In the team’s dominant 37-20 win over L.A., quarterback Kyler Murray completed an impressive 75% of his passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 39 yards on six carries.

It was one of wide receiver A.J. Green’s better games as a Cardinal as well, with the veteran pass catcher hauling in five of his six targets for 67 yards and a touchdown.

He, along with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Rondale Moore, will be leaned on more with Hopkins suspended the first six games of the season for the violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

The Cardinals must try to survive this stretch without No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins. … If they show they can hang with — and even beat — the Rams, they’ll gain much-needed confidence to carry them into the middle of the season.

The earliest Hopkins can return to the fold is in the Thursday Night Football matchup against the New Orleans Saints in Week 7.

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