Offseason Opponent Breakdown: The Arizona Cardinals

Check out photos of the Rams playing the Cardinals throughout the years.

The 2018 NFL Season is still a few months from its official kickoff date, but the opponents for all 32 clubs have already been set.

Aside from their divisional opponents, the Rams will face teams from the NFC North and AFC West. Plus, Los Angeles will take on the reigning division champions from the NFC East and NFC South.

In anticipation of the official schedule release date in mid-April, theRams.com will be taking an early look at each of club's opponents for next season.

THE ARIZONA CARDINALS

LOCATION:As members of the NFC West division, the Rams will face the Cardinals both at home and at University of Phoenix Stadium.

HEAD COACH: Steve Wilks enters 2018 as a first-year head coach. He previously served as the defensive coordinator of the Panthers and under his leadership, the unit ranked seventh in total defense, 11th in points allowed, third in rush defense, and third in sacks. Wilks takes over for former head coach Bruce Arians who retired after the 2017 season. 

MATCHUP HISTORY:In a series that dates back to 1937, the Rams have faced the Cardinals 79 times, including one postseason appearance. With a two-game sweep in 2017, Los Angeles took a slight edge over Arizona at 39-38-2. The two teams last met in Week 13 of the regular season, when the Rams defeated Arizona on its home turf, 32-16, for the third year in a row. Los Angeles also took home a victory in Week 7, when the Rams shut out the Cardinals 33-0.

2017 RECORD: Arizona finished 2017 at 8-8 for a third place finish in the NFC West. 


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WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT?**

The Cardinals took a big hit this offseason when Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer announced his retirement from the league. Palmer had been the starting signal-caller in Arizona since Arians arrived in 2013 — starting in 60 games for the franchise and finishing with 16,782 passing yards and 105 touchdowns. Arizona also lost Tyrann Mathieu, moving on from the Pro Bowl safety after both sides could not find common ground on a new contract.

But the Cardinals have had a number of notable additions, too. The franchise made waves with the signing of quarterback Sam Bradford, who signed a lucrative one-year deal. Arizona also focused in on key pieces surrounding its new quarterback — adding a big-name offensive lineman in Justin Pugh and wide receiver Brice Butler.

WHAT ABOUT THE DRAFT? 

The Cardinals will be on the clock at No. 15 in the first round of this year's draft. However, some mock drafts believe Arizona could trade up to the No. 5 slot in order to select quarterback Josh Allen (Wyoming). If the club does lean towards a quarterback like Allen or Lamar Jackson — another popular selection — many believe he would not start in 2018, instead sitting out the season behind Bradford.

Should the franchise stick with their original slot, analysts at the NFL Network believe a wide receiver like Calvin Ridley (Alabama) or D.J. Moore (Maryland) could be the Cardinals' best fits.

LOOK OUT FOR: 

Division games are known for their unpredictability and this year's matchup between Arizona and Los Angeles should be no different. Not only will a former Rams quarterback in Bradford be tasked with taking on the club's revamped defense, but it will also be the first time the two head coaches — known for their knowledge on either side of the ball — will face off.

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