Rams vs Cardinals – NFL Picks and Parlays 12/23/18
Last week saw one of the biggest shocks of the NFL season, as the Los Angeles Rams lost outright at home as double-digit favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles. That game more or less cost the Rams their chance at home-field advantage in the NFC.
Now the Rams have to find a way to bounce back against a Cardinals team that might not want to win this game at all.
The Rams are giant 14.5-point favorites on the road at MyBookie as they look to help the Cardinals guarantee themselves one of the top picks in next year’s NFL Draft.
The Rams average 6.4 yards per play on the season, putting them in third place in the NFL. Their 32 points per game are also good for third in the league, behind the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. But after scoring 54 points in their Monday night win over the Chiefs, the Rams have scored just 53 points in their three games since.
On the ground, the Rams average 4.8 yards per carry, good for a tie for fourth in the NFL. Todd Gurley was clearly hurt in last week’s game against the Eagles, as he lacked the explosiveness that has made him an MVP candidate for each of the last two years. He hasn’t been practicing, and the Rams might have to look elsewhere to attempt to replicate his superhuman production.
The Rams’ passing game averages 7.9 yards per attempt, which puts them in a tie for fourth in the league as well. Jared Goff, though, has fallen off of a cliff for the Rams. Since the Chiefs win, Goff has thrown one touchdown pass in three games compared to seven interceptions. His mistake last week against the Eagles was one of the worst plays of the season, as he harmlessly flipped the ball to an opponent while being dragged to the ground. In the spirit of the holidays, the play looked like the football version of the villains from Home Alone going through Kevin McAllister’s house of horrors.
Defense is the Achilles heel for the Rams this season, as they give up 6.0 yards per play to opponents this season. That is tied for the 26th ranked defense in the league. Their 24.5 points allowed per game is good for 20th in the NFL. Arizona shouldn’t be able to make them pay for this too much, but you just don’t know what you’re getting with the Rams right now.
Sean McVay’s team is tied for last in the league in run defense, giving up 5.0 yards per carry. Against the pass, the Rams give up 7.2 yards per pass attempt, good for a tie for 23rd in the league.
Cardinals Week 16 Outlook
Arizona is dead last in the NFL, averaging just 4.3 yards per play for the season. Their 13.7 points per game is also last in the NFL. Their offense has been downright offensive, just not for the reasons they’d hoped going into the season.
No team earns fewer yards per carry than the Cardinals, who average 3.7 yards per rush on the season. They are the only team in the NFL gaining under 4.0 yards per carry. David Johnson has averaged 3.6 yards per carry for the season, which has been underwhelming even if he’s still been productive catching passes out of the backfield.
And, unsurprisingly, the Cardinals are also last in the league in passing, averaging 5.2 yards per pass attempt. Josh Rosen has looked like the inexperienced quarterback that he is, but the Cardinals did something last week that could have stunted his growth. In their blowout loss to the Falcons, they put in Mike Glennon during garbage time, benching Rosen. Glennon went out there and outperformed Rosen, which could hurt the team’s confidence in Rosen going forward.
On defense, the Cardinals are tied for sixth in the NFL, giving up 5.3 yards per play to opposing offenses. But their 26.2 points per game allowed is good for 25th in the league. Some of that scoring defense has to do with turnovers returned for touchdowns, like the interception the Falcons brought back for six last week.
The Cardinals are 22nd in the league against the run, giving up 4.7 yards per carry. They are tied for fifth in the league against the pass, giving up 6.4 yards per pass attempt.
Interesting to remember with the Cardinals is that they might be tanking the rest of the way, as they are currently in position to draft in the top-two in next year’s NFL Draft.
Rams vs. Cardinals Trends
The Rams are 11-3 on the season straight up, which is one of the league’s best records. But they are just 5-8 against the spread. In their last seven games, the Rams are 1-5-1 against the spread. They have gone 1-5 against the spread in their last six contests against NFC opponents. And in the month of December, the Rams have gone just 1-4 against the spread in their last five games.
Arizona is 3-11 straight up this season, and 6-7 against the spread, making them a slightly better spread team than the Rams on the year. The Cardinals are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against NFC West opponents, with that one loss coming in their first game against the Rams this year. But the Cardinals are just 1-4 against the spread in their last five games. Regardless, the Cardinals actually have an advantage in this game from a trends perspective.
Given how good the Rams have been this season and how bad the Cardinals have been, this pick might sound crazy. But the Rams have been awful (or Gofful) over the last few weeks, and are injured at their most important position on their offense. Arizona, meanwhile, has a solid defense and should be able to compete here even if they don’t necessarily want to win the game.