Los Angeles Rams (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (6-5)
The Rams lead the NFL with a +4.63% schedule adjusted first down rate differential, while the Cardinals rank 9th at +2.02%, but there is reason to believe the Cardinals can be the better team going forward. While the Rams are a defensive led team, ranking 2nd in first down rate allowed over expected, but just 15th in first down rate over expected, the Cardinals are a dominant offensive team (4th) that has some issues on defense (17th). The good news for the Cardinals is that defensive play is much more inconsistent on a week-to-week than offensive play, so an offensive led team is more likely to sustain their success going forward.
Despite that, this line favors the Rams by a field goal, swinging from an even line last week on the early line, a surprise because the Rams and Cardinals both lost close games last week. About 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or less, so that’s a significant swing without any legitimate reason for it. I love getting a full field goal with the team with the significantly better offense, which is especially the case with the Rams missing dominant left tackle Andrew Whitworth for the third straight week. He’s arguably their most important offensive player. My roster rankings suggest we’re getting significant value with the Cardinals as well, as the Rams have just a one point advantage in my roster rankings without Whitworth, meaning this game should be about a toss up in Arizona, where the Cardinals will have minimal homefield advantage.
On top of that, the Cardinals are in a much better spot. While the Rams have to turn around and play another game against the Patriots in four days on Thursday Night Football, the Cardinals get a trip to New York to face a Giants team that could easily be missing it’s starting quarterback, so the Cardinals should be fully focused. Favorites cover at just a 42.5% rate all-time before a short week, while home underdogs are 72-48 ATS since 2008 before being road favorites, which the Cardinals almost definitely will be against the Giants next week. I would like the Cardinals at +3 even in ordinary circumstances, but with those situational trends factored in, this is my Pick of the Week. I locked in +3 earlier this week, but there are still some available at some books. The money line is also worth a bet as well.
Arizona Cardinals 27 Los Angeles Rams 24 Upset Pick +135
Pick against the spread: Arizona +3
Confidence: Pick of the Week