Monday, January 17, 2022

Rams Exec: Cardinals face ‘battle-hardened’ playoff opponents

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The Arizona Cardinals held the lead in the NFC West prior to the events of Monday, December 13 and are now opening the 2022 NFL postseason against the team that sneaked away with the division title.

But what kind of Los Angeles Rams team get the cards at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood in Monday night’s first-ever NFL playoff game? And on Martin Luther King Day?

Will it be the Rams team that stunned the Cardinals 30-23 in Monday night’s football loss at their home stadium, State Farm Stadium? Or will it be the LA team that emotionally lost 27-24 to the San Francisco 49ers to end the regular season, which helped make the ‘Niners the third representative of the NFC West Playoffs?

There’s a member of the Rams who told Heavy that losing overtime isn’t on the minds of LA players anymore — since they have the Cardinals on their minds.

Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ executive vice president and chief operating officer, took the time to address his team’s mental state during the Super Bowl event “30 Days Out” on Thursday, Jan. 13 at the Rams’ home — what means the big game is 30 days away on the glittering 298-acre grounds.

Aside from talking about the Super Bowl, Demoff says the focus for his team is on the game, which is four days from now.

“Our team is battle-hardened. They’ll be ready for Monday night,” Demoff told Heavy.

One way Demoff knows losing extra time will be an afterthought: his players’ thought process the moment they return to training.

For the Cardinals, the playoffs will be new territory in the Kliff Kingsbury era as he makes his NFL postseason debut as NFL head coach.

On the other side is his counterpart Sean McVay, who led the Rams to the playoffs as headman in four of his first five seasons.

While the Cardinals have made the playoffs 11 times in franchise history, six in Arizona according to Pro Football Reference, the Rams have this advantage: They’ve become accustomed to appearing in games under their 35-year head coach in mid-January.

And with multiple playoff trips comes Demoff’s team mentality they’ve developed over the years he shared.

“I think it’s easy for our players when they get into the playoffs to flip that switch and say, ‘Look, we have four games,'” Demoff said.

But then the Rams executive described this message, which is likely plastered on walls or in brain cells at the Rams facility.

“‘You want to be here at SoFi Stadium on February 13th for Super Bowl LVI? It starts with four games,” explained Demoff. “But it’s very simple: one game at a time and we have to play our best football against the Arizona Cardinals. The rest doesn’t matter. It’s not who we can play in divisional or in conference (championship). None of this happens without doing our best on Monday night.”

Currently, the Rams are listed as a four-point favorite at the top of the cards. Los Angeles leads the all-time streak 46-39-2, according to The Football Database. However, it’s the Cards who have completed three of the last five meetings, including the 37-20 drubbing in Week 4 at the same location Arizona will travel to Monday night.

However, Demoff believes the team of Cards coming to SoFi will be very different from the regular-season version, as his team seeks to become what he called “battle-hardened.”

“This is a new challenge. It starts with the Arizona Cardinals and ends with the Arizona Cardinals,” Demoff said.

Currently, the Rams are listed as a four-point favorite at the top of the cards. Los Angeles leads the all-time streak 46-39-2, according to The Football Database. However, it’s the Cards who have completed three of the last five meetings, including the 37-20 drubbing in Week 4 at the same location Arizona will travel to Monday night.

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