Two NFC West rivals face off for a third time this season in a win-or-go-home situation, as the Los Angeles Rams host the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night in a wild-card playoff game. Sean McVay and Kliff Kingsbury split the season series, but ended the regular season in different ways. The Cardinals won just one of their final five games while the Rams won four out of their final five.
J.J. Watt is expected to return to the starting lineup for the Cardinals, but is he enough to improve this unit after their worst defensive performance of the season against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 18? The Rams are returning a starter of their own, as running back Cam Akers is back after a remarkable recovery from a torn Achilles this past offseason.
Below, we will break down this matchup from a gambling perspective and examine the line movement, Over/Under and player props to consider. First, here's how you can watch Monday night's matchup.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
This line opened at Rams -4.5 last Monday, but dropped to Rams -4 by the end of the day. On Saturday, the line fell another half point to Rams -3.5.
The pick: Rams -3.5. "Kyler Murray has historically struggled against L.A. He's 1-5 against the Rams with seven passing touchdowns and six interceptions. Additionally, Arizona had its worst defensive performance of the season last week against the Seattle Seahawks, which is not something you want to see right before the playoffs. Maybe you don't think the Rams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but they have enough talent to win this game against a team that floundered down the stretch." CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani
"The first-ever playoff game on Monday night wraps up Super Wild Card Weekend and it's a scorcher, with two NFC West division rivals engaging in a rubber match. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have been much better on the road than at home, but I think that might be more noise than signal. The Rams have just been better down the stretch, winning games despite Matthew Stafford struggling at times and claiming the division. Stafford's second half performance against the 49ers is a major red flag but his first half performance should inspire hope he can come out and win his first playoff game. Kyler Murray's 1-5 against the Rams in his career. Love Sean McVay and Co. in this spot." -- CBS Sports' Will Brinson.
This total opened at 50.5 last Monday, but fell to 50 by the end of the day. It fell another half point to 49.5 on Tuesday. It saw another bump up to 50 for a moment on Thursday morning, but ultimately rested at 49.5.
The pick: Under 49.5: "The weekend's other divisional matchup provides the opportunity for us to exploit what the general public thinks will happen. The two regular-season meetings saw 57 points scored in the first meeting and 53 more in the second. So why in the hell am I taking an under here when the total is at 49.5? Because familiarity breeds two things: contempt and lower scores.
"Both teams know where the other will attack them and how to counter it. Plus, games just tend to be lower-scoring in the postseason because the intensity ratchets up a notch, and coaches will get a bit more conservative, whether intentionally or not. So with all of that in mind, I don't think our Monday night finale will have the same kind of fireworks the first two meetings did, and as long as this number stays over 49, I'm going under. You should, too." -- CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli on the total for "Monday Night Football."
Kyler Murray props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over +110, Under -140)
Passing yards: 254.5 (Over -125, Under -105)
Passing attempts: 33.5 (Over -130, Under +100)
Passing completions: 23.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Longest passing completion: 36.5 (Over -120, Under -110)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over +110, Under -140)
Rushing attempts: 6.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Rushing yards: 38.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Murray has thrown at least two touchdowns in half his games played this year, including once against the Rams. I'm willing to take a flier on the Over since it's at plus money. As for passing yards, I like the Over, as Murray passed for 268 yards in his first meeting with L.A., and 383 yards in the second. I'll stay away from passing attempts and completions props in this situation.
Six out of 10 quarterbacks in Super Wild Card Weekend threw interceptions, and Murray threw two picks against the Rams the last time these two teams met. With it at plus money for him to throw one, I'm going to take a flier on that. I'm not going to play Murray's rushing props this time around, but if you want some action, take the Over on rushing yards. It's boom or bust there usually, but it's fun to root for him in the open field. Murray averages 30.2 rushing yards per game.
Matthew Stafford props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -190, Under +155)
Passing yards: 272.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Passing attempts: 35.5 (Over -120, Under -110)
Passing completions: 23.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Longest passing completion: 39.5 (Over -120, Under -110)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -125, Under -105)
Rushing yards: 1.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Stafford passed for at least 280 yards in both meetings with the Cardinals, so the lean is to the Over on passing yards. Over on passing touchdowns is too juicy to play by itself, but throw that into a same-game parlay if you like it. I'm feeling hesitant about Stafford's props in general because I wonder how much run Akers and Sony Michel are going to get in the backfield.
Betting on Stafford's rushing yards prop is borderline ridiculous, but maybe throwing the Under in a same-game parlay could be fun. He did rush for a season-high 21 yards in their first meeting, but didn't scramble at all in their second meeting.
Matt Gay made extra points: Over 2.5 (-115). If you think the Rams win, I would take this prop. Gay has made at least three extra points in nine out of 17 games played this season -- including in his most-recent game against the Cardinals.
Van Jefferson receiving yards: Over 36.5 (-115). The Rams' wide receivers are headlined by Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., but Jefferson is a legitimate weapon as well. Remember, he caught a 52-yard bomb from Stafford last time these two teams faced off. He has also crossed this number in 11 of 17 games played.
Zach Ertz longest reception: Under 20.5 (-125). Ertz crossed this number in two out of 11 games played for the Cardinals.