Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams are set to host the division-rival Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs Monday night.
Said matchup was made possible after Los Angeles fell at home to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18 despite leading 17-0 late in the first half.
The backdrop here was the sea of red that took over SoFi Stadium in Southern California for the game. For all intents and purposes, this acted as a road game for Stafford and Co.
Just listen to the crowd after 49ers rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas ended the game with an interception of Matthew Stafford in overtime.
That’s rather embarrassing. Sure 49ers fans travel well. We’ve seen that on a never-ending loop over the past several seasons. Even then, we’re talking about a state-of-the-art second-year stadium playing host to a legit Super Bowl contender.
Stafford touched on that following Los Angeles’ loss Sunday afternoon.
“We had a chance there at the end of the game. I thought our guys did a good job communicating. It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really, the whole second half,” Stafford told reporters after the game, via SI.com's Nicholas Cothrel.
The quarterback’s wife, Kelly, is now chiming in. Kelly described the environment her husband had to deal with in Week 18 on her podcast.
“I have never seen so many of the opposing team’s fans at a game. We came from Detroit. There were a lot of good traveling teams there, but that was wild,” Kelly Stafford said. “Matthew was on a silent count, Jimmy Garoppolo was not. It was crazy. It made it very hard for us, because I guess we weren’t expecting to be going silent count. ... My plea. Please don’t sell you (sic) tickets to Arizona fans.”
In the link above, Mrs. Stafford pleaded with Rams fans to take over SoFi Stadium against the Cardinals Monday night. The fact that she compared it to her husband’s time with the Detroit Lions has to be seen as concerning.
The good news here? Arizona Cardinals fans typically don’t travel as well as other teams' fans can. The bad news? It’s not a long drive or plane ride from the Arizona desert to Los Angeles.
It’s going to be highly intriguing to see how the environment is Monday night in Southern California. Matthew Stafford and Co. are currently four-point favorites in what will be the first “Monday Night Football” playoff game in NFL history.