Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) at St. Louis Rams
At this point, it’s no secret that the Rams are arguably the best team in the National Football League with a losing record. Improved on every front, the Rams are now 5-3 since Week 7, with wins against the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos. During this stretch, only the Chiefs and Cardinals — both in their respective homes — beat the Rams by more than a field goal. Most likely, the loss in Arizona — against a division rival at a potential turning point in their season — hurts the most.
On Thursday Night Football, in front of a national audience, the often beaten-down Rams look to avenge their Week 10 defeat in Arizona and officially show the world that this isn’t the Rams of seasons past.
Too bad, everyone already knows.
No one expects St. Louis to run the table, grab a Wild Card berth through nearly-impossible measures, and take the Packers to overtime in the NFC Championship Game. But no one expects them to embarrassingly implode, either. Simply put, the Rams have hit their stride, made their statements, gained respect, and now find themselves in the uncomfortable position of giving points to a team four games better in the standings.
Besides the obvious loss of quarterback Carson Palmer, Arizona has one glaring weakness — the Cardinals play significantly better at home than on the road. All three of the team’s losses have come away from University of Phoenix Stadium, while St. Louis hasn’t lost a home game since Week 6’s Monday Night Football defeat by the 49ers.
Those streaks only hold validity until they become dangerously long, in the same vein as the utter dominance of both home teams and favorites on Thursdays early in the season — 6-2 each against the spread after eight games. Now, as road teams — 5-3 against the spread — and underdogs — 4-4 against the spread — have brought the lines back to the norm, we expect this new movement to continue in this direction.
Let’s also not forget that the 10-3 Cardinals, looking to clinch a playoff berth and keep ahead of the race for the NFC’s top seed, are still a dangerous team with threats on both sides of the ball. Arizona wins by six and beats the spread.