St. Louis Rams (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Sunday, October 4th, 2015, 4:25 pm EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
TV: FOX, DirecTV 713
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +7/ARZ -7
Over/Under Total: 42.5
If anyone in the NFC West is going to stop the Arizona Cardinals from running away with the division they better have a sense of urgency, and this Sunday the St. Louis Rams will get a shot at knocking off the undefeated division leaders when they travel to the desert of Glendale, Ariz., for a game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Fox.
Everyone knew Arizona would be a player in the NFC West this season, but nobody expected the Cardinals to be the dominate team in the division that they have already become in three short weeks. If anyone had any doubts, two pick-sixs and a complete whoopin on the rival San Francisco 49ers last week, 47-7, should have removed any doubt that with a healthy Carson Palmer the Cards are legit.
The Rams raised a bunch of eyebrows with their season-opening upset of Seattle at home, but a bad road loss at Washington and a dud at home last weekend in a loss to Pittsburgh, 12-6, and suddenly its the same old underachieving Rams weve grown to know and love over the years. Staring down the division-leading Cards is probably not game the Rams want right now, but they better bring it if they want any chance at all to climb back into the divisional title chase.
Oddsmakers opened the game with Arizona as full touchdown 7-point favorites at home, and despite nearly 70 percent of the public money falling on the Cards, the number has held at minus -7 all week. Whenever the point spread doesnt move despite a large majority of public money on the chalk, it usually signals a little bit of sharp money on the underdog.
The over/under total opened at 43 and has dropped the hook to 42.5 at most sportsbooks, but you can still find plenty of offshore sportsbooks with 43 still up on the board.
If I told you that the Arizona Cardinals would be the top scoring team in the NFL after three weeks back in the preseason you would have probably had me pee in a cup, but that exactly what the Cards are doing with their league-leading 42 points per game average. Its been a healthy balance of run (125 ypg) and pass (266 ypg) for Arizona thus far, although the Rams and their top-10 defensive unit will be their true test defensively this season.
The Rams desperately need to find an offense to go along with their top-notch defense, and right now Nick Foles just doesnt look comfortable yet in his new scheme. With only two TD throws and a 59 percent completion rate, Foles is not making enough plays in the Rams passing game (203 ypg 29th) to keep defenses honest against the run. The Cardinals defense is ranked 5th overall in yards allowed, third in the NFL in points allowed (16.3 ppg) and top-10 in just about every other meaningful category despite losing the coordinator Todd Bowles to the New York Jets in the offseason.
On the field, the Rams havent beaten the Cardinals since September of the 2013 season , a three game slide that includes a 31-14 loss at the University of Phoenix Stadium last year. The betting trends also are not very kind to the Rams in this situation, as the Rams are 0-4 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings and an even worse 2-6 ATS in their last 8 visits to Glendale.
The under is the trend play in this game, with the under a strong 10-4 in the last 14 meetings and 8-3 in the last 11 played in Arizona.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The fact that the line on this game hasnt moved all week, despite a ton of early money on Arizona tells me that Las Vegas is quietly taking in large bets on the dog here. This is what I consider the first, REAL defense the Cards will have faced this season, so I dont see them scoring close to their league-leading 42 points on Sunday. The Rams are offensively challenged as well. Defense rules this game, Id take the under at 43 if you can find it at that number.
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