TNF Prediction

Posted: 12/11/2014 by levcohen in Football

My week 14 review will come in a following post, but I wanted to make my Thursday Night Football prediction first because the game is starting soon and I think this is a really interesting game that I can write a lot on.

The game is between the Cardinals and Rams, who have generally been heading in different directions. The Cardinals are 10-3 and a lucky (they got a call incorrectly reversed) challenge is the only thing keeping them from a four game losing streak right now. They still will likely make the playoffs, as they have the tiebreaker on most of the other wild card contenders (Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas), and could make it even if they lose their last three. With Drew Stanton running the offense, though, they have looked flat and have lacked the big plays they relied on over the first few months of the season. The defense is still good, but it’s not good enough to support a bottom-five offense, especially on the road, where they are just 3-3 and 1-3 without Carson Palmer.

Unfortunately for Arizona, they have to face a St. Louis team that, while they will miss the playoffs, is playing as well as most teams right now. They have recorded consecutive shutouts, beating Oakland and Washington (admittedly not stiff competition) by a combined 76-0. And before that, they beat Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco in a five week span while almost beating the Chargers in San Diego, so this team is playing well.

Although the Cardinals beat the Rams 31-14 in Arizona, they had Carson Palmer for most of that game (he got injured in that game) and it was much closer than the score indicated. I think the Rams are clearly playing better right now, especially at home, where they have quietly become a pretty tough team to beat after three straight wins over the Seahawks, Broncos, and Raiders. The fact that the Cardinals are four games better in the standings is surprising, since the Rams look much better right now, but I don’t think the teams’ respective records should factor too much into my pick (in the past, I have gotten too caught up in records).

Arizona Cardinals (10-3, 9-4) at St. Louis Rams (6-7, 7-6):
Spread: Rams favored by 5.5
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: In a game between two strong defenses and unexciting offenses, I’m actually kind of surprised this spread is in the 40s and not the 30s. This spread seems a little high, as this game could easily come down to a late field goal. But after I wrote that the Rams are the better team and that I don’t think the Cardinals will be able to sustain offensive production, how can I pick Arizona? I’ll stick with my gut and pick the Rams to win 20-13.
Rams cover


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