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Players In The Spotlight: Rams Week

Against Los Angeles, Murray, Hopkins, Alford, Humphries, Kirk ones to watch

Hopkins Spotlight Week 14

The Cardinals enter Week 14 with the best record in the league, looking to secure an 11-2 season start Sunday when they host the Rams on "Monday Night Football." With a victory, the Cardinals can clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2015.

Ahead of the second divisional matchup between the teams in 2021, here are five Cardinals to watch for in this week's spotlight.

Kyler Murray

Murray could return as the MVP favorite with another spectacular performance against the Rams. Murray jumped back into the top-three of the conversation last week in Chicago, by completing 73 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and generating a passer rating of 136.9. Murray had similar production in the Cardinals' Week 4 victory over the Rams at SoFi Stadium.

Milestone Watch: With one touchdown pass, Murray would become the ninth player in NFL history to throw 20+ TD passes in each of his first three NFL seasons.

With a passer rating of 120.0+, Murray would establish a franchise single-season record with six such performances in 2021. He is currently tied with Kurt Warner (5 in 2009).

With a completion percentage of 70.0+, Murray would establish a franchise career record with 16 such performances. He is currently tied with Kurt Warner (15) for the most in franchise history.

DeAndre Hopkins

After dealing with a hamstring injury for several weeks, Hopkins returned Week 13 in Chicago and added another touchdown to his season collection. With a game under his belt since returning, Hopkins will face cornerback Jalen Ramsey for the 11th time in his career. Ramsey did not spend much time defending Hopkins Week 4, but with the Rams needing a win to maintain a realistic shot at winning the division, that could change in Round Two. According to Pro Football Focus, Hopkins has a 94.6 receiver grade on 77 targets, for 38 catches, 462 yards, and two touchdowns all-time against Ramsey.

Milestone Watch: With a touchdown reception, Hopkins would have nine TD catches in his first 10 games played this season.

With two touchdown receptions, Hopkins would have 10 TD catches in 2021. It would mark the fourth time in his career -- and first-time since 2018 (11) -- he had at least 10 TD receptions in a season.

Robert Alford

Through 13 games this season, Robert Alford has been excellent in pass coverage, with an impressive 73.2 Pro Football Focus grade. The Cardinals' secondary will need the same effectiveness from the cornerback against the Rams' deep receiving core. Alford will likely spend time on both Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp. Beckham Jr. has nine catches for 127 yards and one touchdown since signing in November. Kupp is the NFL's leading receiver in total yards (1366), yards per game (113.8), receptions (100), and touchdowns (11).

D.J. Humphries

The left tackle was excellent in protecting quarterback Kyler Murray in the Week 13 win over Chicago, recording the highest Pro Football Focus grade of the Cardinals' offensive linemen. It will be challenging to reciprocate the same success against the Rams, who have Aaron Donald and Von Miller, two elite pass-rushers in their front seven. Humphries – and the rest of the Cardinals' offensive line's ability to protect Murray – could be a significant factor in the game's outcome.

Christian Kirk

Kirk was quiet in Sunday's victory in Chicago, finishing the game with four yards on just one catch, a season-low. Kirk had similar production against was Week 4 against the Rams. With division implications in Monday's game, the Cardinals will need more production from the wideout to increase their chances of pulling out the victory. Kirk has been the Cards' most consistent receiver this season; it's hard to believe he'd be held to a single catch again.

Images of the top Cardinals in the spotlight against the Rams: CB RObert Alford, WR DeAndre Hopkins, LT D.J. Humphries, QB Kyler Murray and WR Christian Kirk