The Arizona Cardinals went from holding the NFC West lead before the events of Monday, December 13, to now opening the 2022 NFL postseason against the team that snuck away with the division title.
But what kind of Los Angeles Rams team are the Cards getting at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood in the first-ever NFL playoff game on Monday Night? And on Martin Luther King Day?
Will it be the Rams team that stunned the Cardinals 30-23 on that Monday Night Football loss in their home venue of State Farm Stadium? Or will it be the L.A. team that fell in emotional style to the San Francisco 49ers 27-24 to end the regular season, which helped make the ‘Niners the third NFC West playoff representative?
There’s one member of the Rams who told Heavy that the overtime loss is no longer on the minds of L.A. players — as they have the Cardinals on their mind.
Cards to get ‘Battle Tested’ Rams
Executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Rams Kevin Demoff took the time to address the mental state of his team during the Thursday, January 13 Super Bowl themed event called “30 Days Out” at the Rams’ home — signifying that the big game is 30 days away at the glistening 298 acre venue.
Outside of talking about the Super Bowl, Demoff says the focus for his team is on the game that’s four days out.
“Our team is battle tested. They will be ready for Monday night,” Demoff told Heavy.
One way Demoff knows the overtime loss will be an afterthought: The thought process of his players the moment they return to practice.
The Message Inside the Rams’ Building
For the Cardinals, the playoffs will be new territory in the Kliff Kingsbury era, as he will have his NFL postseason debut as an NFL head coach.
On the opposite side is his counterpart Sean McVay, who has guided the Rams to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons as the head man.
While the Cardinals have made the playoffs 11 times in franchise history, but six in Arizona according to Pro Football Reference, the Rams have this advantage: They’ve gotten used to appearing in games in mid-January under their 35-year-old head coach.
And with multiple playoff trips comes Demoff’s team mindset they’ve developed over the years, which he shared.
“I think for our players, it’s easy once you get into the playoffs to flip that switch and say ‘Look, we got four games,'” Demoff said.
But then, the Rams executive described this message that is likely plastered on walls or inside brain cells at the Rams’ facility.
“‘You want to be here at SoFi Stadium on February 13 for Super Bowl LVI? It starts with four games,'” Demoff explained. “But it’s very easy: One game at a time and we need to play our best football against the Arizona Cardinals. The rest doesn’t matter. It’s not who we can face in the divisional or in the conference (championship). None of that happens without playing our best on Monday night.”
Currently, the Rams are listed as a four point favorite to top the Cards. Los Angeles leads the all-time series 46-39-2 according to The Football Database. However, it’s the Cards who have taken three of the last five meetings, including the 37-20 drubbing in Week 4 at the same place Arizona will travel to on Monday night.
Demoff, though, is a believer that the Cards’ team coming into SoFi will be far different than the regular season version as his team looks to become “battle tested” as he called it.
“This is a new challenge. It starts with the Arizona Cardinals and it ends with the Arizona Cardinals,” Demoff said.