Though a Week 5 Thursday night showdown between the Cardinals and Rams may not have garnered a lot of attention at the start of the season, with Arizona somehow still undefeated, all eyes remain fixated on them for this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football.
The Cardinals had a mediocre outing last week at home to Miami, but that’s not unusual for a team that struggles to score. Ken Whisenhut’s side still found a way to get the job done, and now sit pretty atop the NFC West with a stunning 4-0 record. How long they can stay there, remains to be seen. Arizona has been awful this year in establishing the ground game, and with Beanie Wells still injured, the Cards will need to find ways to diversify their attack. More injuries of notes for Arizona include key defensive lineman Darnell Docket who was absent again Miami. By all accounts, Dockett is expected to be back Thursday evening and should be a huge boon to the Cardinals’ pass-rush.
Conversely, the Rams are coming off a big win at home on Sunday against Seattle and will look to continue the momentum against a surprising Arizona squad. Both teams are similar in the sense that they struggle to move the football, but can play stout defense. Unfortunately for the Rams, they currently do both worse than their Thursday night opponents. If they are to improve on their 2-2 record, St. Louis needs more from star running back Steven Jackson. Though Jackson is listed as questionable entering this contest, he is expected to play, and needs to spearhead the Rams attack. Against a stout Cardinals defense however, it won’t be easy for the hometown Rams.
Cardinals vs. Rams Spread & Betting Odds:
Arizona Cardinals -1 (-115)
@ St. Louis Rams +1 (-105)
Over 39.5 (-110)
Under 39.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Cardinals vs. Rams Pick:
The Arizona Cardinals, somehow, someway, are looking to begin their 2012 campaign with a 5-0 record. They haven’t attained that feat since 1974, but if they’re going to win Thursday night they’ll need to be much crisper. Despite their misleading record, Arizona has been simply atrocious on offense. Running back Ryan Williams is averaging just 3 yards per carry, while Larry Fitzgerald has yet to rediscover the form that once made him one of the best wide-outs in the game. What has carried the Cards has been their suffocating defense, and that trend will have to continue Thursday night.
Expect both teams to struggle desperately Thursday evening when it comes to moving the football. NFL fans have been treated to some exciting clashes on Thursday Night Football this season, but this clash won’t be one of them. When you consider the fact that Steven Jackson has openly said that their offensive MVP this season has been their rookie kicker, it shows how brutal the Rams are at putting points on the board. Going against the likes of Darnell Dockett and Patrick Peterson certainly won’t help matters either.
Picking a side in this contest seems like a true flip of the coin. The Cards are clearly punching above their weight, but after how average they looked last week at home to Miami, it’s hard to support them. Conversely, for the Rams, it remains a struggle for them with Sam Bradford under centre. St. Louis won’t be able to run on the Cards, and picking on a secondary which includes Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson, and Kerry Rhodes, won’t be a wise choice for Jeff Fisher’s side.
Though this total is set fairly low at 39.5 points, it seems like the best fit for Thursday evening. These primetime, standalone contests have been heavily going under so far in 2012, and expect that trend to continue. Expect it to be a game of defenses, as both Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford will struggle to string together first-downs. Big run plays will be a rarity, while both quarterbacks will be relentlessly pressured by the defensive lines of the opposition. Both offensives are stunningly mediocre, while both defenses have been surprisingly stout. Both those traits will continue. Ultimately, look for a low-scoring affair with the Cardinals likely pulling it out to go a miraculous 5-0. Something along the lines of 20-14 seems fitting for Thursday night’s defensive struggle.
PICK = Under 39.5 (-110)