The Arizona Cardinals are one of the feel-good stories of the league this year, but like the Philadelphia Eagles, have been on shaky ground from week to week.
Much has been made of the Cardinals’ 4-0 start being their best since 1974, but maybe that’s not so stunning considering the team has played three of its first four games at home for only the second time in four decades. By contrast, in 11 seasons since landing in the desert they opened with three road battles in their first four outings.
Also, in Week 4 the Cardinals needed overtime to defeat Miami – winning despite only 28 yards rushing, the lousiest total for a victorious NFL team in more than a year.
And don’t disregard the fact Arizona has one of the oldest rosters in the league that’s playing on short rest on the road. Thus, the Cardinals’ unbeaten bubble could be ready to burst.
Now for a closer look at this game:
PRO FOOTBALL THURSDAY, OCT. 4
Arizona Cardinals (4-0) at St. Louis Rams (2-2)
Time: 5:25 p.m. PDT
Line: Cardinals -1 (38½)
Facts: The last time these teams collided, in Week 12 last season, the Cardinals won 23-20 as a 2½-point underdog. The Rams haven’t been a favorite since.
• Arizona is listed as having the fourth-oldest roster at the start of the season. Last year, teams in the top four in age went 0-3 ATS on three day’s rest. Conversely, St. Louis has the youngest roster but is under Jeff Fisher, who’s the second-longest tenured active head coach.
• The Cardinals have gone 11-2 (9-4 ATS) since midseason last year, triggered by a 19-13 home victory against the Rams.
• Arizona is 1-4 ATS as a road favorite the past four seasons.
• The Rams, behind QB Sam Bradford, beat Seattle 19-13 last week, but their only TD came on a pass by the punter out of field goal formation.
Analysis: The Cardinals have had their remarkable run behind QB Kevin Kolb, who was beaten out this summer by last year’s No. 32-rated passer John Skelton, who left with an injury in Week 1. Although Kolb has been steady, with seven TD throws and only two INTs, he’s been under incredible duress, getting sacked eight times last week vs. the Dolphins.
With a running game averaging 2.7 a rush, play-action is a waste of time for the league’s No. 31 offense. On the other hand, St. Louis RB Steven “Whirlpool” Jackson is listed only as “probable” (groin), which is an enormous boost for the Rams.
St. Louis also showed in a Week 2 win over Washington the capability of overcoming adversity, since having a -2 turnover differential in that game.
Forecast: Rams 21, Cardinals 17
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at BobChrist@GamingToday.com.
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