NFL Picks: Cardinals vs. Rams Week 1 Early Odds & Prediction

Jeff Grant

Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:56 PM GMT

The St. Louis Rams were one of the top ATS teams in 2012, but they might be overvalued in opening up a new season against the Arizona Cardinals.


Let’s take a closer look at the NFL betting odds for this Week 1 matchup at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, Sept. 8, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX.

Line play a top priority

Arizona finished with a 5-11 straight up (SU) and 7-8-1 against-the-spread (ATS) record a season ago, which caused the franchise to make numerous changes, which includes bringing in a new head coach and quarterback.

Former Indianapolis Colts interim head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians takes over on the sidelines, while Carson Palmer takes over the controls on offense.

Both are fully aware that the team will only have success if it can put together a capable offensive line—something that has been missing for quite some time.  The group’s last Pro Bowler came all the way back in 1996.

Fisher King 

St. Louis compiled a respectable 7-8-1 SU record under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher, while tying three other teams with the best ATS mark in the league at 11-5. 

Fisher has proven to be a great underdog coach in the NFL, as he amassed 142 career victories with the Tennessee Titans, but his squad will be laying more chalk than a season ago.

The Rams average betting line was +4.65 in 2012, and they weren’t favored by more than 3.5 points in any of their 16 games.

Connecting with Fitzgerald

Palmer’s main priority during the team’s OTAs is to build a solid connection with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who caught just 71 passes for 798 yards and four touchdowns in 2012.

There’s no doubt that the duo could be one of the more exciting pass-catch combinations in the league—potentially the best in the NFC West division.

Keep an eye on the offensive line’s progress during training camp and the preseason, as the Cardinals would love to go vertical with Palmer and Fitzgerald in a new offense.

Big-time acquisitions

The Rams don’t receive a lot of national media attention with everyone focusing on the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, but it’s important to point out that they went 2-1-1 against those teams a year ago.

St. Louis has been aggressive in the offseason, with the signing of former Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long, while using its first round pick to select flashy West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers take a look at the Cardinals as one of their early Week 1 NFL picks. The Rams haven’t been favored by six or more points since the 2006 campaign.

NFL Pick: Arizona Cardinals +6 at BET 365

[gameodds]16/226880/43-349-192/us[/gameodds]