December 12, 2014 Tuesday, 9:25
10/17 St. Louis Rams Odds to Win
Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams kick off the second halves of their respective 2014 campaigns in an important divisional matchup in Arizona this Sunday. The Cardinals are playing as well as anyone in the NFL this year, entering this weekend’s contest as the only remaining one-loss team in the league. They should be in for a stern test when the Rams come to town. St. Louis scored a big upset within the division with last week’s last-second victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals have been arguably the most surprising team in football this year, especially when one considers the number of key players to have missed time. But Bruce Arians and his staff have done a masterful job of getting the very most out of their players. Arizona doesn’t boast the type of team numbers that are usually associated with a 7-1 squad; they rank 23rd in total offense and 19th in total defense. But they do all of the important things right. The Cardinals are fifth in third-down defense, fifth in takeaways, second in giveaways and second in turnover differential. Todd Bowles‘ defense blitzes early and often, not always coming up with sacks but forcing big plays nonetheless. The Rams have been a mystery wrapped in an enigma. They have suffered ugly losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs and barely managed to defeat the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At the same time, they have victories over their division rivals in San Francisco and the Seattle Seahawks. St. Louis is that scrappy team that seems to play to the level of its competition, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. This contest could very well end up being a low-scoring affair. Neither offense is going to light up the scoreboard and both defenses are capable of coming up with big plays. In this type of game, it will come down to quarterback play, an area where the Cardinals would seem to have the advantage. Carson Palmer, while not spectacular, has been a steady presence when healthy, while Austin Davis simply doesn’t have the weapons to do much against a stout defense like Arizona’s. In the two games between these division rivals last year, the home team was victorious both times. This one will be closer than some might expect, but you can also expect that home-field trend to continue this year.