The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Rams at State Farm Stadium:
Hope To Spell Goff T-O
Jared Goff has had some very good games in the NFL. He has had some very good games against the Cardinals. But he's also had bad games, with 10 turnovers in four games, of late, and after the way the Rams have manhandled the Cardinals' defense the past three seasons (no fewer than 31 points in six matchups) the Cards have to find a way to push the QB into awkward spots. Goff had 400 yards passing in the game at Arizona last season halfway through the third quarter. This year's defense, even without Chandler Jones, is better. That has to translate against the Rams.
Aaron Donald is the best defensive lineman in the NFL, the best defensive player in the NFL and possibly the best player in the NFL (Yes, I know Patrick Mahomes exists.) Donald sacked Kyler Murray 1½ times in the first meeting between the teams last season, and while he didn't in the rematch, he's the first one on the radar of Murray and the Cardinals, who have to find a way to get Murray loose through the air and – maybe – on the ground, even as Murray insists he doesn't have to run for the offense to hum. Looking DeAndre Hopkins' way more often might help, although the Rams figure to stick All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Nuk and dare him to do what he does. If Murray can get away from Donald and a surprisingly excellent Rams defense, the Cards will be in the place they need to be. The offense has sputtered for two straight games. It's time to right that wrong.
Playoffs?!? You're Taking About Playoffs?!? Playoffs?
A few weeks ago, given the state of the NFC, a playoff spot seemed almost inevitable with the way the Cards were going. Even with a loss against the Dolphins, the miracle against the Bills seemed to reenergize the talk. But two close losses since then, the Cardinals find themselves with multiple teams so close to them in the standings and a stretch run that includes two games against a Rams team that has had their number. To a man, the chatter about "controlling our own destiny" has echoed through this week. It is true that they do, but unless they put together a few wins, that ability will be lost quickly.