This week's NFL TV maps: 506sports
Arizona (+5.5) over ST. LOUIS
This isn't meant to be dismissive of the Rams, who certainly have earned the mantle "the team no one wants to play right now", but let's pump the brakes a little bit on the Rams love. Yes, the Rams defense is finally coming together after half a season spent looking nothing like the team that had accumulated some of the best young defensive front seven talent in the NFL. Yes, the Rams have won their last 2 games by a combined score of 76-0. Yes, the Rams are the home team on a short week.
But football has three phases of the game. We know the Rams can ball out on defense. We know they can make magic happen on special teams. But what about the offense? Just how many points will Shaun Hill and company put up on a very good Arizona defense? And that 76-0 score? Came against the Raiders and Redskins. Doesn't mean those games don't count, just there will be significantly more resistance tonight, both offensively and defensively. And while traveling on a short week is hard, teams with great coaching staffs tend to be okay in these situations, and the Cardinals qualify.
I can easily see the Rams winning tonight. I just the 5.5-point spread is inflated because the casual fan just sees the back-to-back shutouts. Not much separates these two teams. The Rams have the better running game, better front four, and are healthier. The Cardinals have the (moderately) better passing game and better secondary. This should be one of the better Thursday night matchups of the season, I'm very much looking forward to it.
2014 Midweek Picks: 11-5