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Playoffs In Reach With Primetime Monday Night Duel

Cardinals host Rams on national TV with chance for chokehold on NFC West

Wide receiver Rondale Moore takes a pitch during the last national TV game the Cardinals played, Week 8 against the Packers.
Wide receiver Rondale Moore takes a pitch during the last national TV game the Cardinals played, Week 8 against the Packers.

Something about playing Monday night under the bright lights elevates the play of Christian Kirk.

The wideout believes the stage is the perfect platform to showcase his skillset. The last time the Cardinals played on "Monday Night Football," Kirk had a noteworthy performance in Week 5 against Dallas in 2020, leading all receivers in yards while adding a pair of touchdowns.

Ahead of the Cardinals' first and only "MNF" appearance in 2021, when they face the division-rival Rams (8-4) Monday at State Farm Stadium, Kirk will have the opportunity to shine again in the atmosphere he enjoys most.

"Primetime," Kirk said. "You know you're the only game on TV; all eyes are on you. It's a big stage, and obviously, there's a lot of national recognition that comes with it. It's just another opportunity for us to take the field and show how good of a team we are."

The Cardinals and Rams have faced off on primetime before – twice on "Thursday Night Football" and once on "Sunday Night Football" – but never on a Monday. The importance of this game is also magnified with NFC West crown implications involved.

Through 13 weeks, the Cardinals have the best record in the NFL, at 10-2. With a victory, the Cardinals can clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2015, and reduce their magic number to one to win the division with four games to play. Los Angeles must beat the Cardinals to maintain a realistic shot of winning the division and avoid dropping further in the standings.

The Cardinals dominated the Rams in Week 4 at Los Angeles, pulling off a 37-20 victory that wasn't even that close.

"We know what type of game this is going to be," Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. said. "It's a huge game for us, but I think the most important thing for us is to be ourselves; that will help us be our best on Monday."

Quarterback Kyler Murray, who completed 75 percent of his passes with two touchdown passes while registering an impressive passer rating of 120.3 in Week 4, had a similar mindset.

Murray is an MVP candidate alongside Tampa Bay's Tom Brady and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, both future Hall of Famers. With another stout performance against the Rams on Monday, Murray could emerge as the favorite for the award.

Murray said he looks forward to facing Aaron Donald and Von Miller for the first time on the same team, with the world watching and a chance to become the first team in 2021 to clinch a playoff spot.

"We've got to go out there and execute just like they do," Murray said, downplaying the Week 4 win. "I don't really look at it too much. I think this is a totally different game, totally new game. They're going to come ready. Like I said last time, if you want to be great these are the games that you got to step up to the plate and be about it. That's the same mentality I had last time, same mentality I have this time."


Cardinals defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson will miss Monday's game because he is in Covid protocols. His duties will be assumed by other assistants on the staff.