NFL Week 15 Preview: #ARIvsSTL
Cardinals and Rams in Critical NFC West Showdown
The Arizona Cardinals aren’t dead yet. With their season in peril, the Cardinals got back in the win column on Sunday by beating the Kansas City Chiefs 17-14 at The U. People were so pessimistic about Arizona’s chances, they drove the NFL odds all the way from Arizona +1 (–105) on Sunday morning to +3 (–115) by kickoff.
Apparently more convincing is needed. The Cardinals are expected to be small underdogs again this Thursday night (8:25 PM ET, NFLN) when they visit the St. Louis Rams. St. Louis is coming off a 24-0 victory over Washington (+3, +100 at home), making it back-to-back shutouts and four straight paydays for Mound City.
Go For 3
Thursday’s game is an important NFC West matchup. This is especially the case for the Cardinals (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS), who maintained their slim division lead by upsetting Kansas City. The Rams (6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS) could theoretically earn a Wild Card berth by winning their remaining three games, but they’re going to need a lot of help to get in.
Don’t worry about Rams on Thursday. This is a very proud team building for the future – for the coin toss against Washington, head coach Jeff Fisher sent out the six players St. Louis acquired in the Robert Griffin III trade. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers was one of those players; after blanking his former employers, Brockers told reporters, “We’re about to shut out three!”
It could happen. Arizona has been struggling on offense ever since starting quarterback Carson Palmer (95.6 passer rating) tore up his knee late in the fourth quarter of the Week 10 victory over the Rams. Drew Stanton (77.6 passer rating) hasn’t been a complete disaster in relief, but he hasn’t played at Palmer’s production level. Stanton has four touchdown passes and five interceptions over these past four starts, driving the under to a 3-1 record.
Things looked even bleaker for Arizona going into Week 14 when running back Andre Ellington (3.3 yards per carry) was lost for the season with a sports hernia. But Kerwynn Williams came in off the practice squad and surprised the Chiefs with 100 yards rushing on 19 carries. Can Williams do that again on Thursday.
Probably not. Kansas City had the league’s No. 21-ranked rushing defense through Week 13, according to Football Outsiders. St. Louis was considerably better at No. 11, and that was before holding Washington to a grand total of 27 yards rushing on Sunday. The Rams also knocked starting quarterback Colt McCoy out of the game after delivering their sixth sack of the day – then they sacked Griffin for good measure.
On the other side of the ball, it looks like Arizona will be without cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Thursday. He suffered what appeared to be a severe ankle injury against Kansas City. This could open things up for Rams quarterback Shaun Hill (81.3 passer rating), who’s thrown four touchdown passes and zero picks over the past two games. Maybe the Cards should be underdogs after all.