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First Look: Rams host Cardinals looking to clinch playoff berth

The Rams (9-6) host the Cardinals (8-7) on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, with both teams fighting to clinch a playoff spot. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. pacific time on CBS.

In advance of the contest, here is your first look at Rams-Cardinals presented by SoFi:

Notable Cardinals additions

  • Signed K Mike Nugent to their 53-man roster. Originally signed as a COVID-19 "insurance policy" in mid-September, Nugent would later be elevated from the practice squad twice. After reaching that individual max for elevations, he was signed to the 53-man roster on Dec. 25, less than one week after starter Zane Gonzalez was placed on injured reserve with a back injury. A 15-year veteran, Nugent has made all 13 of his place kicks so far – 7 fo 7 on field goal attempts, 6 for 6 on extra point attempts – in three games played this season.
  • Signed TE Seth DeValve to their 53-man roster. Like Nugent and the kicker position, injuries at tight end – plus DeValve hitting the individual maximum of two elevations – led the Cardinals to promoting DeValve on Dec. 25. Dan Arnold (36 of 82) and Darrell Daniels (30) saw the majority of snaps at the position in Week 16, but DeValve did receive 19 plus nine special teams snaps.

Top performers in Week 16

QB Kyler Murray completed 31 of 50 pass attempts for 247 yards with an interception in Arizona's 20-12 loss to San Francisco.

Murray also rushed for a team-high 75 yards on eight carries, but RB Kenyan Drake had the most rushing attempts with 18 for 45 yards.

WR Christian Kirk led all Cardinals receivers with 76 yards on seven receptions, with WR DeAndre Hopkins adding eight for 48.

S Budda Baker paced Arizona's defense with nine total tackles, while LB Haason Reddick added a forced fumble and LB Isaiah Simmons a fumble recovery.

On special teams, Nugent made both of his field goal attempts (long of 43).

Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams

Last week, the Cardinals needed a win against the 49ers and a Bears loss to the Jaguars to clinch a playoff spot. The Rams, meanwhile, had multiple ways to secure their playoff berth: A win over the Seahawks, a Bears loss to the Jaguars, or a Cardinals win over the 49ers.

All of those results went the opposite direction.

Neither team saw their playoff clinching scenarios fall correctly into place in Week 16, thus setting up a win-and-in scenario for both in Week 17. At least, for the simplest possible route.

For the complete picture this week, the Cardinals can get into the postseason with a win, or a tie and a Bears loss. The Rams need a win or tie, or a Bears loss or tie. But since both Arizona and Los Angeles remain in control of their own fate – and Bears-Packers kicks off at the same time – winning on Sunday remains the easiest way for either team to punch its wild card ticket.

Focusing more on the Rams, they will look to accomplish that with John Wolford starting in place of the injured Jared Goff. It will be the first NFL regular season snaps for Wolford, who showed a strong command of the offense in the 2019 preseason and scrimmages this preseason.

Meanwhile, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is "hopeful" his own starting quarterback, Kyler Murray, will be ready to go for Sunday's game after sustaining a lower leg injury in last Saturday's loss to the 49ers. If Murray cannot go, Chris Streveler or Brett Hundley would be the next man up.

There's a lot on the line on Sunday, and it could come down to a battle between two backup quarterbacks.

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