THOUSAND OAKS — Another game against a quarterback like Lamar Jackson might be the one thing the Rams don’t want right now.

Or the two things they don’t want, since a quarterback like Lamar Jackson presents a defense with a double dose of difficulty.

Nobody is quite like Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens leader and NFL MVP front-runner who ripped apart the Rams with five touchdown passes and 95 of his team’s 285 yards on the ground on Monday night.

But rookie Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals is the league’s No. 2 dual threat, giving the Rams twice the challenge as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

A difference is that the Cardinals don’t lean on the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner’s ball-carrying talents quite as constantly as the Ravens depend on the 2016 Heisman winner’s.

“We’ll be a different offense — a different look (than Baltimore’s),” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday. “I think the similarities are that they’re both dynamic runners when they do decide to take off.”

Rams coach Sean McVay agreed: “He gets around the corner quickly, he’s got great acceleration, he’s got a great feel for how to manipulate and maneuver through traffic while avoiding taking those hits.”

The Cardinals aren’t the hottest team in the league — that’s the Ravens. But Arizona is the most dangerous 3-7-1 team you could face.

Kingsbury, a first-year coach, has combined with Murray, No. 1 in the 2019 draft from Oklahoma, to improve Arizona’s scoring from 32nd (last) in the league in 2018 to 15th with a bullet this season.

Among reasons for the Rams (6-5) to worry:

• Murray’s 418 yards on the ground make him and Jackson (876) the only two NFL quarterbacks leading their teams in rushing.

• His 2,703 yards passing make him, Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson the only three NFL quarterbacks to have 2,500 in the air and 400 on the ground in their first 11 games.

• He has thrown only one interception and 10 touchdown passes in the past seven games, and hasn’t fumbled this season.

• He has the two highest passer ratings (130.7, 101.8) against the 49ers’ defense this season.

“He’s showing you the future,” Cardinals tackle D.J. Humphries told reporters in Arizona. “The fact that this kid was in college a year ago, he was preparing for the college playoffs a year ago, that he’s in our locker room leading us the way he is, that’s super-impressive.”

One Cardinal isn’t impressed: Murray.

After Cardinals’ 36-26 loss to the 49ers, their third straight loss in which they led or were within a field goal in the fourth quarter, Murray expressed frustration.

“I’ve always won,” said Murray, who won three state championships with his high school team in Allen, Texas, and went to the 2018 national championship game with Oklahoma. “To be in position to win, and you should win (and don’t), it’s disappointing.”

Jackson is winning already in his second NFL season. Murray seems to be on the verge.

The Rams must keep him from getting there Sunday, through the air or on the ground.

Notes

Rams quarterback Jared Goff, asked if he feels extra pressure because of the four-year, $134 million contract extension he signed in September, including an NFL-high $110 million guaranteed: “No, I don’t. I need to make sure that is never the case. I always want to play like I’ve always had since I was a little kid, always having fun, enjoying it. Never let the business side of it creep in as far as the way you approach every day or every game. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that. But there are times where you do think of it. But no, I don’t feel any differently.” …

Safety Eric Weddle was asked if he meant to suggest he might retire when he said in the locker room after Monday’s game that he has “maybe five (games) left.” Weddle, 34, who’s under contract for this season and next, said Wednesday he was referring to the possibility of getting injured or replaced by a younger player, and not taking football for granted. “I’m not a young, spry chicken. I can’t play this game forever. … I also know this could be it. If it is, there won’t be any regrets from me.” …

Backup safety Marqui Christian has a sore knee but is expected to be able to play Sunday, Sean McVay said. The Rams’ first injury report of the week lists Christian, tight end Gerald Everett (knee), tackle Rob Havenstein (knee) and defensive back Darious Williams (ankle). …

Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is from Port Neches, the Texas town near Houston where two explosions and fires at a chemical plant Wednesday injured at least three employees and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. Phillips said he and his wife Laurie have family there but they’re all safe. …

Aaron Donald continues to lead NFC defensive tackles in fan votes for Pro Bowl rosters, with 128,397. Voting continues until Dec. 12 at NFL.com/ProBowlVote. The Pro Bowl is Jan. 26 in Orlando, Fla. Donald was selected as a starter in last year’s Pro Bowl, as were Rams Todd Gurley at running back and Cory Littleton for special teams, while Goff was chosen as a backup. None played because the Rams were in the Super Bowl the following week.

LA Daily News