Arizona Cardinals (9-2) at St. Louis Rams (4-7)
The Cardinals failed to cover last week in San Francisco, winning by just 6 points, as 10 point favorites, but I like their chances of covering this week as 5 point favorites in St. Louis for a few reasons. For one, they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Road favorites off of a road win are 44-31 ATS since 2008, as long as they are in their 2nd of two road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 218-218 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.44 points per game, as opposed to 307-428 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.93 points per game.
The Cardinals should have won by more than 6 last week anyway, as they won the first down battle by 9, 26-17. That’s not particularly impressive against the 49ers, but they haven’t lost the rate of moving the chains battle all season and in their two losses won the first down battle by a combined 20. They rank 1st in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Rams are all the way down 28th. Defensive end Robert Quinn is out for the 4th straight week for the Rams and they’ve really missed him. They rank dead last in rate of moving the chains, so they’ve had to rely on their defense to have any success this season and they haven’t been playing nearly as well defensively without Quinn. The Cardinals are missing running back Chris Johnson, defensive end Frostee Rucker, and defensive end Corey Redding, but none of those players are as important as Quinn and the Rams are also missing talented cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
This should be a relatively easy game for the Cardinals and they’re expected to be favored by 6 next week at home against the Vikings. Favorites of 6+ or more are 80-42 ATS since 2012 before a game in which they will be 6+ point favorites again. The Cardinals are only favored by 5, but it was 6 earlier in the week and it really should be 10 given the talent disparity between these two teams. Either way, the logic makes sense. Superior teams tend to blowout out inferior teams when they don’t have an upcoming distraction. They do have to play next week on Thursday Night and favorites are 46-70 ATS before Thursday Night Football since 2008. I’m also a bit concerned that the line is dropping despite the public being all over the Cardinals, as that suggests the sharps are on the Rams, but I just think we’re getting too much line value to pass on. I wouldn’t put money on this one unless the line drops to 4 though.
Arizona Cardinals 17 St. Louis Rams 9
Pick against the spread: Arizona -5