Monday Night Football Preview

Cardinals at Rams

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Each week, TheLines will provide a betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.

The Arizona Cardinals and LA Rams will face off at SoFi Stadium on Monday, Jan. 17 in the first ever Monday Night playoff game.

MNF odds and betting breakdown

Arizona Cardinals at LA Rams () – 8:15 p.m. ET

The spread for this contest has seen some notable movement since it opened. The line opened with the Rams as 4.5-point home favorites. Perhaps factoring in the Cardinals notched a 37-20 win at SoFi back in Week 4, the number was progressively bet down to 3.5 by Wednesday. The spread is currently Rams .

It’s worth noting neither team comes in with any momentum stemming from Week 18. The Cardinals blew their chance at securing the NFC West crown by dropping a 38-30 decision at home to a Seahawks team with nothing but pride to play for. That awarded the Rams, which blew a 17-0 lead on their home field to the 49ers to eventually fall by a 27-24 score in overtime, the division title by default.

The total for the contest has also seen some movement. The number opened at a robust 50.5 points, but bettors found that number to be a bit inflated. Consequently, it was progressively whittled down to 49 by mid-week and currently sits at .

The two meetings between the clubs during the regular season finished with totals of 57 and 53 points, but Arizona will be playing in this rubber match without DeAndre Hopkins (knee). Additionally, Chase Edmonds is expected to be listed as a game-time decision to the ribs issue that caused him to miss Week 18, while James Conner’s status is also a bit uncertain after he suffered his own ribs injury in the loss to Seattle.

  • The Cardinals were 10-7 (58.8 percent) against the spread this regular season, including 8-1 (88.9 percent) as a road team and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in NFC West games. The Over is 8-9 (47.1 percent) in Arizona’s games this season, including 4-5 (44.4 percent) in its away contests and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in division games.
  • The Rams were 8-9 (47.1 percent) against the spread this season, including 4-4 as a home team and 3-3 in division games. The Over is 9-7-1 (56.3 percent) in Los Angeles’ games this season, including 4-4 in its home games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in its games against NFC West opponents.

Live betting angles: Arizona vs. LA Rams

MNF prop search tool

Looking to bet on props for Monday Night Football? Use our prop search tool to find the best odds across legal sportsbooks in the US.

Cardinals vs. Rams game matchup

Murray still has been able to generate some impressive numbers through the air without Hopkins, but the overall continuity and effectiveness of the air attack has undeniably been compromised without the star wideout available to draw defensive attention. Christian Kirk, A.J. Green and tight end Zach Ertz have been a serviceable trio for Murray down the stretch, but this game will mark the first of the three against the Rams that Kyler will have to make do without his top receiver. Los Angeles finished the regular season with a No. 6 ranking in pass defense DVOA and a No. 10 ranking in Explosive Pass Play Rate allowed, which helped lead to opposing QBs managing just a 16:19 TD:INT. On the brighter side for Arizona, L.A. did allow an elevated 68.2 percent completion rate at home, although it’s worth noting they did so at a modest 9.5 yards per completion.

The matchup on the ground isn’t overly appealing, either, especially if Conner and Edmonds are limited. Los Angeles finished the regular season with a No. 5 ranking in Football Outsiders’ Rush Defense DVOA and No. 1 in PFF Rush Defense. The Rams did give a little more on the ground at home (108.4 RYPG allowed) than on the road (98.6), but they held Conner to 2.6 yards per carry in two meetings this season, albeit with four rushing TDs. Edmonds was much more effective in his one encounter with L.A. – he gained 120 yards on 12 carries to help ice the Cardinals’ victory in the first game – so his availability would be a major boon for Kliff Kingsbury’s squad.

On the other side, the Rams’ potent offense faces a Cardinals defense that performed better on the road than at home. Arizona gave up just 319.0 total yards per road contest, compared to 340.8 per home game. The Cards did produce top 10 rankings in Football Outsider’s Pass Defense DVOA (5th) and Rush Defense DVOA (6th). They also ranked 5th in Explosive Pass Play Rate surrendered, but they did yield more passing yards per game on the road (224.9) than at home (202.6). Stafford produced solid numbers versus Arizona, completing 69.1 percent of his throws and generating a 5:1 TD:INT across two games. Kupp’s success in the second meeting was a reminder of what he’s capable of after an MVP-worthy season, yet he was kept in check to the tune of a 5-64 line on 13 targets in the first game.

The Rams’ ground attack got a nice boost in Week 18 when Cam Akers culminated a lightning-fast recovery from a summer Achilles injury to get back on the field versus San Francisco. Akers will presumably enjoy a larger role in this matchup after being eased in against the 49ers, likely slotting in as a change-of-pace option to Sony Michel. The Cards conceded chunk plays on the ground more than any other team – they finished with a No. 32 ranking in Explosive Rush Play Rate allowed – but they were a dramatically more effective run defense on the road. Arizona gave up an NFC-low 94.1 rushing yards per game when traveling (138.1 allowed per home contest) at 4.2 yards per carry, a stark improvement from the 4.9 they facilitated at State Farm Stadium.

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How to watch Monday Night Football

ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 17.

Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.

MNF betting tips

How to bet MNF like a sharp

Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.

The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.

The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.

Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Monday Night Football start?

The 2021 Monday Night Football slate started on Monday, Sept. 13 with the Las Vegas Raiders edging the Baltimore Ravens.

ESPN broadcast two Monday Night Football games in Week 1 for many years but that was not the case in 2021 and it looks as though that tradition is dead moving forward.

Every MNF game from Week 2 through Week 17 of the 2021 season will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

How to stream Monday Night Football?

The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.

What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?

The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.

Who are the MNF announcers?

The team of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese return for the second year.

John Parry remains as the rules analyst, and Lisa Salters returns as the sideline reporter.

Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Raiders.