Arizona Cardinals (10-3) at St. Louis Rams (6-7)
At first glance, this line seems off. The Cardinals aren’t as good as their 10-3 record, but rate of moving the chains differential still says we’re getting a significant amount of line value with them as 4.5 point underdogs. The Cardinals rank 10th, moving the chains at a 71.50% rate, as opposed to 69.85% for their opponents, a differential of 1.66%. The Rams, meanwhile, move the chains at a 70.48% rate, as opposed to 71.28% for their opponents, a differential of -0.80%. This line was 2.5 a week ago and it’s since moved across key numbers of 3 and 4 and I love fading significant line movements like that.
However, I understand why this line is where it is. The Rams are playing dominate football over the past two weeks, allowing opponents to move the chains at a mere 54.55% rate, as opposed to 75.86% for their offense. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that they haven’t allowed a single point in either of their last 2 games, becoming the just the 4th team in the last 25 years to pull off that feat. For the record, each of the previous 3 teams covered by an average of 10.67 points the following week, though that’s such a small sample size.
You can call the past two weeks a fluke and it’s important to remember that in the first 11 games of the season they moved the chains at a 69.50% rate, as opposed to 74.03% for their opponents, a differential of -4.53%. However, keep in mind that over those 11 games, they played 9 teams that currently have winning records and managed to pull the upset 3 times against the likes of Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco. You can say that over the past two weeks they were only playing the Redskins and the Raiders, but it’s not like the Cardinals’ offense is moving the ball well right now. In games that Drew Stanton has started, they are moving the chains at a mere 68.98% rate and they have just 2 offensive touchdowns in their last 3 games and one of those was a garbage time touchdown against a terrible Atlanta defense. That doesn’t exactly seem like a recipe for success going on the road against a red hot defense. The Cardinals’ defense isn’t healthy either with Tyrann Mathieu out and Antonio Cromartie likely out.
The Cardinals haven’t exactly been great on the road this year anyway, moving the chains at a 69.41% rate, as opposed to 71.27% for their opponents on the road this season. On the road with Drew Stanton, they move the chains at a 57.53% rate. The Rams were within 3 of the Cardinals in Arizona earlier this season before the Cardinals had 3 fluky touchdowns, one on a long pass, and two on return touchdowns. And that was when the Cardinals still had Carson Palmer. The Rams are also in a good spot as divisional home favorites before being non-divisional home favorites as teams are 51-33 ATS in that spot since 2008. They have no distractions on the horizon with the lowly Giants coming to town next week. I would have liked the Rams a lot more at 2.5, but they should still be the right side here at 4.5, even if it’s for a no confidence pick.
St. Louis Rams 17 Arizona Cardinals 10
Pick against spread: St. Louis -4.5