Two teams that have looked shockingly good so far in 2012 are Arizona and St. Louis, who meet at the Edward Jones Dome in this week’s edition of “Thursday Night Football”. Look at the schedule prior to the regular season, you wouldn’t have thought that this game would be any good, but if you’re an NFL betting capper looking for darkhorses, you may want to check this NFC West contest out.
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
NFL Betting Odds: Cardinals -1
How The Cardinals Can Win
The Cardinals aren’t a flashy team on either side of the ball, particularly on offense, even though they have a potentially lethal receiving duo in Larry Fitzgerald and rookie Michael Floyd, who the Cards are bringing along slowly. They aim to take care of the ball and not beat themselves with Kevin Kolb under center, and he has done a great job of managing the game, much in the vein of San Francisco’s Alex Smith.
Not that the Cards have a defense nearly as good as the 49ers, but Arizona’s D is third in the NFL in points allowed and that could take them a long way as the season wears on. While offense gets the attention, defense is what takes (most) teams to the playoffs and Arizona’s is coming along. Even though the numbers aren’t great, the defense is why ‘Zona is 4-0.
How The Rams Can Win
The Rams are 2-2 and showed a lot of heart to bounce back from being handled easily by Chicago to beat Seattle, who was coming off an emotional and controversial win on “Monday Night Football” over Green Bay (which probably ended the referee lockout). Sam Bradford looks pretty good, even though the offensive line is still sketchy (the Rams have allowed 14.0 sacks, which is tied with Arizona for second-worst in the league). He has formed a formidable alliance with Danny Amendola, but Bradford still needs a little more so we can really see what Bradford, a former Heisman winner at Oklahoma and #1 overall pick, can do.
The defense is 26th in the NFL in run defense, and Arizona likes to run the ball, so you can see where the potential for problems lies in St. Louis. They’re 12th in pass defense, but that’s because the opposition feels they can run on the Rams at any time. That has to be fixed immediately.
Outlook And Pick
Arizona has a 1-point edge at home over the Rams, and they have owned the Rams both on and off the betting boards, winning 16 of 25 outright and covering in 17 of those games. Neither team has had much to cheer about in recent years, and the wheels could even fall off at any time this year, which makes this game a little more important as they don’t want to lose the momentum they’ve built up this season.
But the ‘Zona defense is a touch better than their St. Louis counterparts, so give the nod to the Cards.
NFL Pick: Cardinals -1