Before placing your NFL pick on Thursday's match between the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams, review the NFL Odds, trends and stats with this handicapper.
Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams (-4-/40-) 8:25 ET NFL NTWK
Intriguing Thursday night divisional matchup of division leader, Arizona (10-3 SU), visiting last place St. Louis (6-7 SU)! Yet, St. Louis is now a 4- point favorite in NFL odds. That is shocking, not only because of the records, but considering that when these two teams met November 9th in Arizona, the Cardinals were a 7 point favorite and won the game (31-14). In that contest, Arizona outgained the Rams 335-244.
The reasons for this immense line swing of 11- points (remember, a venue change of teams would be worth in the 5-6 point range) revolve around Arizona injuries and the St. Louis current form. Typical of HC Fisher teams, St. Louis is better known as a team who rises to the occasion in the underdog role for some shocking victories. Again this year, St. Louis has already won outright vs. Seattle, San Fran and Denver as underdog, while covering as road dog at Philly and San Diego. In the last two weeks, however, they have added the role of bully to their repertoire. The Rams have whitewashed Oakland (2-11 SU) and Washington (3-10 SU) by a combined 76-0 count. That means St. Louis, since they last played Arizona, is 3-1 SU, 4-0 ATS. In those recent victories against the NFL weak links, St. Louis outrushed Oakland (172-61) and outrushed Washington (131-27). Both of those are solid indicators of success. But a look at my NFL article this week on Turnovers, tells you that the +7 net TO margin for St. Louis in those games, speaks volumes. Now, St. Louis is asked to face the team who is tied for the best record in football as a 4- point favorite. But, that momentum will be hard to continue for a St. Louis team who is 13-16 SU L2Y. For, the Rams have not thrived on success, going 0-4 SU ATS following consecutive victories in the previous two years.
Arizona clings to the slim divisional lead over Seattle by one game against the hard-charging Seahawks. The role of the hunted is clearly not one to which Arizona is accustomed. If they are to succeed this evening, it will be without starting QB Palmer, their best RB Ellington and a pair of key secondary defenders, Cromarti and Mathieu. Yet, the Cards continue to get the job done under 2nd year HC Arians. In his 2 years at the helm in Arizona, Arians is now 20-9 SU ATS. This includes an amazing 14-1 ATS in his NFL coaching career, when his team is facing a foe that is coming off a SU and ATS win. The Arizona offense has gone dry! The Cards have averaged just 14 PPG in the last 4 weeks, going to 2-2 SU ATS. But, one thing has remained a constant for this team throughout the season … Arizona has allowed 21 or fewer points to 11/13 of their foes.
Never overly excited about backing a late season divisional leader, who is unaccustomed to the role of hunted. The injuries on each side of the ball for Arizona could be critical! Yet, in the role of defensive underdog, it is hard to pass up this value against the St. Louis team who has pitched consecutive shutouts, an event that begs for correction.
With the OVER/UNDER line reduced to 40- points because of the poor offensive showing of Arizona of late and the Rams’ consecutive shutouts, must clearly consider the OVER to be a viable option as primetime games have gone 31-11 OVER this season.
Free NFL Pick: Arizona +4.5 & Over 40 at The Greek