2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 13 Game Analysis: Rams 38, Cardinals 28
I take notes during the live watch. I re-watch the game on tape looking for hidden clues to report on. Here are my notes/takes on what I saw and how it related to FF 2020. I write anywhere from 1,000-3,000+ words on each game, and I must move fast to get to all of them through the week…so, please forgive any typos/grammar.
*Re-reading this before publishing…I’m not sure my intro even makes sense, but it was a stream of consciousness thought that made sense to try to connect to, but not sure it landed. Oh, well…they can’t all be Pulitzer worthy. Trying to spice it up. You be the judge…
This game analysis depends upon the analyst’s perspective.
It’s like our current U.S. news media.
Something happens. The media member/organization reports on the event through the lens of whatever belief system they hold.
If a meteorite crashed into your house, you might see the following reports on the news...as examples to try and paint my case for how it happens in football:
*The actual event: Meteor comes out of nowhere to destroy a local citizen’s home, befuddling scientists.
*Homeless population grows in our city, and we’ll interview the recently homeless person who lost their house due to a global warming caused space event.
*Beautiful falling star sighted in our area last night.
*Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to bomb a local man’s house.
*Joe Biden colluded with China to allow Space Aliens to protest the concept of home ownership.
*Gender neutral, racist space rock targets low-income housing area.
You get the point. We see what we want to see…whether we realize it or not. It happens with football coverage all the time.
How does this relate to the Rams-Cardinals game? Well, I’ve heard all kinds of analysis about this game…and after re-watching the game, it’s aggravating me how silly analysis is in general.
Basically, football analysis in a given week is a template: (1) Winning team is fine/mostly immune from overall criticism. (2) Losing team…everything is wrong, and things need to be changed.
The analysis of this game seems to be: Arizona is bad. Kyler Murray is too short. Rams are lucky to win because Arizona is so bad.
This simplistic analysis begins with a lot of bad precepts, like…underrating the Rams, so when Arizona loses to them it seems terrible of the Cardinals to do. Analysts then rush to a microphone or laptop to say, “See, I told you Kyler wasn’t a legit NFL QB!” This from, the same people who were gushing over him as the future great after Weeks 4-5-6 this season. If Arizona wins next week, and Kyler racks up numbers…they’ll be back on Kyler.
THEY (the football media) come into this game HATING Jared Goff. To THEM, Goff is a rube and a backup talent. When he has a bad game…”See, we told you Goff stinks…what a terrible contract…the Rams can’t win with Goff.” When Goff plays well/the Rams win, “See how Sean McVay helps (incompetent) Goff with magical play calling? Rams win despite Goff’s shortcomings!”
Nothing is ever good enough for these people. They latch onto a scouting concept early on and they never let it go, and report everything through that lens for years. They should be GUSHING over what Josh Allen did Monday night…they aren’t even hardly acknowledging it. But they’ll do 500 story angles on “Lamar Jackson is back!” because he won a game against the shitty Cowboys, while they ignore or make excuses for Goff/the Rams or Allen/the Bills winning.
I would argue the Bills are the 2nd best team in football, and the Rams are 3rd…both could beat the Chiefs…or both lose to them. They’re all top teams in the league, but THEY see KC way above them all and there’s no way Buffalo and the LA Rams could be any good with Josh Allen and Jared Goff at the helm, so the lack of reporting/enthusiasm by them effects all of us…we’re gaslighted to think we’re the crazy ones. Why, EVERYONE knows Josh Allen is just on a hot streak that will end soon… Why, EVERYONE knows Jared Goff secretly stinks… Why, EVERYONE can see how great Tua Tagovailoa is playing.
We are being lied to hourly because they are terrible at analysis and they never go back and look at all these games and do that persistent research day after day after day.
But I do.
My agenda is getting them right…seeing what others might not be seeing and exploiting that for my/your hopeful gain.
If you look at this LAR-ARI game from the perspective of the Rams as a top NFL team with (for my money) the single best defense in all the NFL – then Arizona losing is not the constitutional crisis of the universe. The fact that Arizona hung with a great Rams team most of the game, but just got beat by the better team – it’s not a negative, it’s at least neutral, if not a slight positive.
Arizona wasn’t perfect but against a really good defense/team, they moved the ball/scored points…it was a struggle, but they achieved some offensive success against this D. This game was only 17-14 Rams at the end of three quarters, with Arizona having missed a FG before half or it could have been tied.
The Rams scored first in the 4th-quarter to go up 24-14, the Cardinals came right back to 24-21 with 13+ minutes to go. The Rams started muscling the Cardinals from there and Kyler trying to rush a comeback with 4+ minutes left down 10 points, threw into danger and got picked sixed and then the game was pretty much over at 38-21…but Arizona did fly right back down the field and get it to 38-28 with 2+ minutes left. They never quit.
The Rams were the better team, but no shame for the Cardinals – the Rams are better than the Cardinals right now. Most NFL teams are not as good as the Rams. But because the football media is pro-Seattle and anti-Rams, we don’t get any good vibes about the Rams. They’re still trying to figure out how the Giants wrecked their Seahawks…and trying to ignore that the Rams smacked Seattle too just a few weeks ago.
The Rams are now (8-4), and I think they’re the best team in the NFC…but not so great they couldn’t get beat by any team on any given Sunday. Goff is a top 12-15 NFL QB, the Rams defense is the best in the league…you can win a title with that combination. We project the Rams to (11-5) and a shot at the NFC West title…but Seattle still very much in it with an easier schedule.
Arizona is now (6-6)…a team with flaws, but still possible for the playoffs. They’ve lost four of 5, and everyone is hysterical – but they’ve lost to Seattle, Miami, New England, the Rams in that span…they aren’t losing to patsies and they are not getting totally outplayed. The Cardinals are just not a great team yet, cut them a break. Their last two wins were over very good teams Buffalo (lucky) and Seattle…the Cardinals are not terrible, but they are if you tried to elevate them to NFC West winners (as many did 5-6 weeks ago…because they beat ‘holy’ Seattle Week 7. Somehow beating Seattle is like the litmus test for the football media for temporary acceptance (See: Giants this week). It’s really bizarre. Except when the Rams do it.
We see Arizona finishing (8-8) and sneaking into the playoffs, maybe. (7-9) is not off the table still.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The Kyler Murray (21-39 for 173 yards, 3 TDs/1 INT) Report…
If this is the worst Kyler Murray plays in a season…it’s a pretty good season. 3 TD passes against the best defense in the NFL. Sure, limited passing yards and he’s stopped running for some reason…but he’s doing fine as a passer. He is literally the only thing keeping this horrid Air Raid scheme afloat. Kyler is making plays…that’s all you can ask, especially in a game where his team, his O-Line were overmatched.
Over the last 6 games, the Rams defense has humiliated Nick Foles (0 TD/2 INT), crushed Tua’s awful debut (1 TD/ 0 INT), squashed Russell Wilson (0 TD/2 INTs)…made Tom Brady (2 TD/2 INT) look stupid, and drop kicked Nick Mullens (0 TD/1 INT)…3 TD passes/7 INTs total allowed in the prior five Rams’ games to this one – so Kyler comes in and drops 3 TD passes with a late game, forced comeback pick and we’re supposed to get hysterical about it/the loss?
I think Kyler looks fine. Flashes of greatness at times…overcoming this dreadful Air Raid – he’s just not as good as Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. That’s not a crime. He might be as good as them, but he won’t be in this offense unless personnel changes are made and the O-Line is upgraded.
Kyler is fine. The Cardinals are ‘fine’ if you see them as a .500 team. The current FF issue is three not-great matchups ahead with NYG-PHI-SF. Limits the upside some, unless he starts running heavy again.
In context, Kyler is fine.
-- Jared Goff (37-47 for 351 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) has blown up Seattle (73%, 302 yards), Tampa (76%, 376 yards), and Arizona (79%, 351 yards) in the last 4 weeks…and still everyone is like “How Sean McVay gets Goff to ever complete a pass is a miracle!”
I agree, Sean McVay is good…better for Goff than a Jeff Fisher type. No denying it, but it’s not like Goff is incompetent, as he is portrayed. The guy is a former #1 pick (and the football media would like you to forget that it was SO obvious to them that Carson Wentz should have been #1…where did those arguments disappear to, I wonder?) – Goff is talented. If he gets the Rams to the Super Bowl this season…it will be two SB trips in three seasons. That ain’t bad.
I know this …he’ll never get credit for it (if he does win a title), ever. The media has marked him, and he’ll never escape it.
Recall the note above about him blowing up SEA-TB-ARI the last 4 weeks? The one game I didn’t mention in that span…Week 12 vs. the 49ers – a defense that made him look stupid. That’s why I am pro-49ers-DST for the ROS…Sherman-Verrett back and they look really good. Getting beat by the Bills is not a crime, just like the Cards losing to the Rams here isn’t horrible.
-- Cam Akers (21-71-1, 1-22-0/1) got 21 carries and it seems Sean McVay has gone in on what he’s always wanted to – a Cam-led backfield.
We all thought that about Darrell Henderson (3-49-1, 2-25-0/3) several weeks ago too.
Akers had a few nice runs, but mostly a lot of 0-2 yard garbage happened…again. I think McVay wants Akers ‘to happen’, but he will switch horses mid-race if the situation warrants.
In his last five games, Akers had that wide open 61-yard run vs. the 49ers…and 53 carries for 183 yards otherwise…a sad 3.45 yards per carry. I hope McVay loses games if he tries to force this Akers thing, as it seems he’s trying…but McVay is fairly smart – he’ll switch in-game if Akers is failing.
I’d be very wary of thrusting Akers into your FF starting lineups based off this one outlier game…it might be the start of a trend, but it might just be an outlier.
-- The argument for McVay sticking with Akers, despite ‘results’ is Kliff Kingsbury is doing by continuing to force Kenyan Drake (10-49-1, 2-9-0/3) into the action despite a lack of results/juice. Drake puts the offense to sleep every time he gets a lot of carries on a drive – and then Chase Edmonds (6-28-0, 2-15-0/6) and always looks faster/provides a spark, but then disappears from the field.
There’s no end in sight of heavy Drake and limited Edmonds…so, maybe it will be heavy Akers and limited Henderson for the Rams ahead too? Whether it makes sense or not…head coaches tend to latch onto one RB, and they won’t quit ‘em no matter what.
-- All the Cardinals WRs were held in check, again…the Rams pass defense is awesome. Some receiver notes for ARI:
Dan Arnold (2-61-2/3) got a long TD early in this game, and then wasn’t a part of the offense most of the rest of the game…which is his norm. The 2 TDs were just randomly lucky, not a move towards ‘something’.
DeAndre Hopkins (8-52-1/13) got held in check by Jalen Ramsey. Hopkins has been under 55 yards in a game in four of his last 5 games…mostly playing top cover corners/good-to-great pass defenses.
Christian Kirk (1-2-0/3) is so irrelevant in this offense. The TD flurry from a few weeks ago…his prior hot streak is like the Dan Arnold game here. Just a blip.
KeeSean Johnson (4-27-0/4) is the one receiver showing a fresh spark. A season high 4 catches while playing 70% of the snaps. He’s about to become the #4 WR and Andy Isabella (2-7-0/5) is about done in Arizona. Bill Belichick should be drooling to make him his new Julian Edelman.
-- Gerald Everett (6-44-0/7) is playing more and more snaps, getting more and more purposeful touches. Since Week 7, Everett is averaging 3.8 rec. (5.2 targets), 29.0 yards, 0.17 TDs per game.
A lot of designed bubble/tunnel screens for him in this game. Last year, Tyler Higbee (4-24-1/6) blew up with more work at the end of the season. Everett is muddling along with more work of late…so, it only makes sense that there will be more Everett and less Higbee.
Maybe Sean McVay is worse at personnel than I thought…and I’ve been souring on the boy genius for two years now.
-- Troy Reeder (10 tackles, 1 PD) has started three games for the injured Micah Kizer this season. He’s averaged 12.0 total tackles and 1.0 TFLs per game in those starts. One more start Week 14 before Kizer returns…against run-heavy New England…here comes 10+ more tackles!
-- The Rams have the best defense in the NFL, so says me. Facing NE and NYJ the next two weeks is not going to hurt my argument.
-- A look at the Cardinals-DST when NOT facing a top QB (like Russ, Allen, Goff) this season…
Week 12 vs. NE = held the Pats to 20 points and 179 total yards
Week 9 vs. MIA = Gave up 31 points but 7 were defensive, another 7 set up by a turnover in the deep red zone. It was a game of errors setting up Miami, but normal circumstances the Dolphins had a hard time moving the ball.
Week 6 = Held Dallas to 10 points
Week 5 = held the Jets to 10 points
Week 2 = Held Washington to 15 points.
They have given up ‘stuff’ to good teams/QBs and squashed weaker offenses almost all season. They face Colt McCoy Week 14. You decide what category that matchup falls in…
Snap counts of Interest:
64 = Hopkins
60 = Kirk
54 = Isabella
45 = KeeSean
37 = Edmonds
29 = Drake
70 = Higbee
60 = Everett
52 = Akers
18 = DHendo
13 = M Brown
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