Week One NFL Showdown: Arizona Cardinals at Saint Louis Rams
Odds courtesy of Bovada
Saint Louis is young, but good. The team has an average age of just 24.9, yet they find themselves 4.5 point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals in opening week play. Sam Bradford will be without his best receiving option from last year, in Steven Jackson (who signed with Atlanta). Even without Jackson’s 1,000-plus yard seasons, the Rams are counting on Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Tavon Austin on picking up the slack.
The team may regret not having paid for Danny Amendola, but Givens is a big play threat and Bradford has the arm to get to him. With Jackson and Amendola leaving, though, breaking even would be quite an accomplishment for this receiving corp.
The backfield will be the Rams biggest weakness, as Jackson did just about everything. Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson and Terrance Ganaway are expected to be the triad running back in St Louis, and Richardson is really the only one with major potential. He had a great first half in 2012, but saw very little time down the stretch. Still, his breakaway speed may be the best chance for the Rams’ backfield producing big plays.
Arizona won just five games last season and beginning the season on the road, they find themselves underdogs against another poor team. Bruce Arians will try to right the ship this season, but the team hasn’t had a double-digit win season since 2009 and the shelves are pretty bare. Carson Palmer is the best QB the Cardinals have had in a while, but he’s nothing special, either. It’s just that even Palmer is a huge upgrade over what the team got from Kevin Kolb or John Skelton.
Palmer will need a lot of pass protection to avoid sacks due to waning mobility, but his arm should be good still. And the Cardinals do have some decent receivers. Larry Fitzgerald had his worst year since his rookie year, but is of course a top talent who was playing with poor QBs. Arians calls Fitzgerald and his teammates the best corp of receivers he has inherited, and Andre Roberts, Kerry Taylor and LaRon Byrd are all in to benefit from Arians’ pass-heavy approach. While the Cardinals are a poor team, this opening week game is going to be one of their best chances at victory against a young Rams team with a lot of holes.
OVER is 5-0 in last 5 vs NFC, OVER is 4-0 in last 4 overall, UNDER is 5-1 in last 6 in Sept
7-0 ATS in last 7 vs NFC West, 2-10 ATS in last 12 games in Wk 1, 5-1 ATS in last 6 overall
Head-to-head: UNDER is 8-2 in last 10 mtgs, UNDER is 4-1 in last 5 mtgs in STL.