Undefeated Arizona Cardinals At Rams Thursday Night
By: Michael Robinson
Monday, October 1, 2012
The undefeated Arizona Cardinals try to prove they’re for real when they visit the St. Louis Rams on Thursday Night Football.
The Don Best Pro Odds have just released NFL Week 5 odds. Arizona is a 1-1½ point road favorite with a low total of 38-38½. The NFL Network will have this NFC West battle beginning at 8:20 p.m. (ET) from the Edward Jones Dome.
The Cardinals get the primetime coverage at the perfect time with their 4-0 straight up record their best start since 1974. That’s when the franchise was ironically located in St. Louis.
That 1974 squad finished 10-4 before losing in the first round of the playoffs. There was plenty of talent including Jim Hart at quarterback, running back Terry Metcalf and lineman Dan Dierdorf. The latter is still brutalizing us each week as a television analyst on CBS.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t know what to expect with this year’s team, but is certainly pleasantly surprised. Quarterback Kevin Kolb didn’t even begin the season as the starter, but led a comeback win versus Seattle in Week 1 after John Skelton got hurt and has a 97.6 rating overall (ranked ninth).
Kolb led a last-minute comeback last Sunday to send their Miami game into OT. The 24-21 win as 4-point favorites was the first ATS loss this season. Kolb was sacked eight times and is not getting much help from the league’s 30th-ranked rushing attack (68 YPG). Beanie Wells (toe) is on IR which leaves the rushing duties to Ryan Williams (3.0 per carry).
Whisenhunt’s defense let up 431 passing yards to Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill. The unit ranks 17th overall in total yards allowed (357 YPG), but third in points (15.3 PPG). Having 10 defensive turnovers has really helped the cause, although that can’t be counted on each week.
The ‘under’ is 3-1 for Arizona this season, going ‘over’ the 38 ½-point total last game thanks to the late touchdown pass by Kolb.
The Rams (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS) have already won as many games as all of last season. They’ve taken both home tilts this year as small ‘dogs, 31-28 over Washington in Week 2 and 19-13 versus Seattle last Sunday.
New coach Jeff Fisher has brought much-needed confidence to the franchise. The team was out-gained in total yards (319-286) by Seattle, but found a way to win by picking off quarterback Russell Wilson three times.
The defense has had trouble stopping the run at 135.3 YPG (ranked 26th), but Arizona and Williams don’t look like a big threat this week. The pass defense ranks 13th at 214 YPG, with a league-high eight picks. Kolb had his first two interceptions of the year versus Miami and could be vulnerable Thursday as well.
The St. Louis offense is still a work-in-progress under new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Quarterback Sam Bradford (80.1 rating) may never live up to his No. 1 overall draft selection, but he can make plays if the offensive line (14 sacks) holds up. He does have one of the NFL’s leading receivers in Danny Amendola (351 yards).
It would help to get running back Steven Jackson (195 yards, 3.3 ypc) going and he is rounding into shape from his groin injury.
A look at the Don Best injury report has Arizona defensive lineman Darnell Dockett (hamstring) questionable after missing last game. He would be a big addition.
Note Arizona has won the last seven meetings between the teams in St. Louis, going 5-2 ATS.