The Arizona Cardinals had a narrow escape at home vs. Miami to go to 4-0 Sunday, winning 24-21 in overtime after tying the game on a 4th-and-10 touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb to Andre Roberts with 22 seconds left in regulation. The pesky St. Louis Rams meanwhile evened their record at 2-2 and went to 2-0 at home with a mild upset over the Seahawks by a 19-13 score.
St. Louis now finds itself as a small home underdog again, just as it was in both wins at the Edward Jones Dome this year, as Arizona is a -1½ favorite with the total set at 39.
1. Why St. Louis will cover the spread: Two keys for St. Louis to cover this spread and win the game both have to do with the passing game, with one key each on both sides of the ball. On offense, Sam Bradford has to improve on his 80.1 passer rating and pass the ball effectively, as the Arizona run defense contained Reggie Bush well last week and is allowing 3.8 yards per carry, while Rams’ running back Steven Jackson does not appear to be at 100 percent. Bradford certainly has a chance to take a step up here after Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill torched the Cardinal secondary for 431 passing yards, and he certainly has a nice target in Danny Amendola, who already has 31 receptions in just four games for 351 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Rams’ pass defense may need to pick off Kevin Kolb at least once, and that too seems doable considering Kolb threw two interceptions last week when forced to throw the ball more than he has all year, and the Rams rank second in the NFL with eight interceptions.
2. Why Arizona will cover the spread: Two keys for Arizona to cover this spread have to do with line play on both sides of the ball, as the Cardinals need to improve in both areas over this past Sunday. The offensive line was downright abysmal both in run blocking and in pass protection, as Arizona managed only 28 rushing yards all game on 15 carries and Kolb was sacked a whopping eight times for 55 yards worth of losses. On the other side of the ball, the defensive line had been ferocious over the first three games, but not so much vs. the Dolphins and that exposed the rest of the Arizona secondary besides Patrick Peterson. You can bet that the Rams will try and take advantage by moving Amendola around in their formations to try and get him on the opposite side of Peterson.
3. Total Talk: We like the ‘under’ here better than either side. We do like the Rams’ chances of accomplishing both of their keys better than the Cardinals’ chances, but that may not lead to much scoring as Amendola is more of a possession type than a burner, so finding him often will move the chains and actually help the ‘under’
4. Betting Trends for the game: The ‘under’ is 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head meetings, while the Cardinals are 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups. We like the former to continue, but the latter is iffy.
St. Louis 17 – Arizona 16