St. Louis Rams (3-5 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date and Time: Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 4:25PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +8/ARIZ -8
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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On Sunday in an NFC West battle, The dangerous St. Louis Rams make the southwest trip to face the first-place Arizona Cardinals. St. Louis beat San Francisco on the road last week and now have the opportunity to notch consecutive divisional wins over heavily-favored opposition. The Cardinals are flying high at 7-1 and in somewhat-quiet fashion, have compiled the best record in the NFL.
There is a definite low-key nature to the Cardinals team. Not that theyre dull, but theyre under the radar. After all, they won 7 of their last 9 games last season, meaning theyve won 14 of their last 17 regular season games. You just dont hear a lot about them for a team that has been winning so much lately. Coach Bruce Arians is a quiet guy, but he seems to have had the magic touch, first as Indys interim coach in 2012 and in the last two seasons with the Cardinals. And without any superstars on the team, its easy to see how Arizona gets so little push in the media. Dont let that detract from what is a really good team.
The Rams are becoming one of the leagues bigger enigmas this season. Theyre 3-5 and highly undependable. But with 2 of those wins coming against Seattle and San Francisco, they seem to get up for divisional games, something that recent Rams teams, even bad ones, are known to do. Sure, the Rams are not very good, but theyre one of those sub-.500 teams you have to get up for or you might get tagged with a loss.
After facing the Chiefs and 49ers on the road in their last 2 games, the Rams will be playing their third straight road game. After a grinding win over the Niners on Sunday, could the Rams be a little winded coming into Arizona? The Cardinals have been tough against the run this season, but are dead-last against the pass. Rams QB Austin Davis has shown the ability to air it out at times and this could be a week where we see more of that.
Its just hard to see how Arizona has been so successful when looking at it on paper. Weakest defense against the pass, toward the bottom in rushing offense, and bottom-half in passing offense–not exactly inspiring rankings. Their QB Carson Palmer is a guy a lot of people wrote off and he missed some time with an injury. Their leading rusher, Andre Ellington is averaging under 4 yards per rush. Supposed number-one WR Michael Floyds production has slowed to a crawl, with 5 straight games of under 50 yards receiving. So how are they 7-1?
Their pass-catching crew is a diverse group of talented players. Larry Fitzgerald is getting into a groove. Rookie speedster John Brown is making his presence known in recent weeks. Ellington is one of the more useful running backs in the pass-game in the entire league. This is a well-coached team that plays as a cohesive unit. They have good chemistry and a lot of heart. They are second in the NFL in turnover margin and dont make a lot of mistakes. And when a big play is needed, players on both sides of the ball are answering the call.
The Rams offense is largely inconsistent. The team scored 6 against the Vikings, 19 against Tampa, 17 and 13 against the 49ers, and 7 against the Chiefs. But theyve also put up 31 against Dallas, and 28 against both the Eagles and Seahawks. This might not be the best spot for the Rams. Despite being last against the pass, the Cardinals are 5th in points allowed with an average of just 19.5. So theyre usually pretty stingy, despite being leaky at times. Attribute it to a defense that in the last 3 games, is allowing an unheard-of 25% touchdowns inside the red zone.
The Rams will be relying on a run-game, featuring Zac Stacy, who seems less-effective than in 2013, Tre Mason, and Benjamin Cunningham. They lost top receiver Brian Quick, leaving them with a receiving crew that features the names Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, and a regressing Tavon Austin. Its a really lackluster group and injuries have left them depleted. They are in their second game without left tackle Jake Long, with rookie first-rounder Greg Robinson being thrown into action.
In 7 wins, the Cardinals have not won any game by an amount surpassing 11 points. In other words, theyre not necessarily a team you like to bet on as a big favorite. As 8 point favorites, theyre not as exciting a proposition. The Rams are tough in the division and on the right day, can beat anyone. Last week was a galvanizing win and I look for the Rams to carry that momentum into this game and hang in there against the Cardinals.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the St. Louis Rams plus 8 points.