Week 9 of the NFL season is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a big upset win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams continue on the road this week, visiting another divisional rival, the Arizona Cardinals. The game will be a tough match up for the Rams, but one that's eminently winnable, especially if they can play a disciplined, mistake-free game. It's also time for Dubs to make a move on the leaders, in the weekly Pigskin Picks contest!
This season has produced many surprises, but none more unexpected than the rise and fall of teams in the NFC. Last year, the Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, and Panthers had a combined record of 48-16. This season, they're a combined 16-16-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 19-6 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.
Week 9 Results
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||10 3||7 6||2 1||0 1|
|Season||94 39 1||81 53||15 12||3 5|
Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, and media types. This year, they're tracking 129 experts on a weekly basis. I'm competing against them again this year, and will publish the weekly results!
How did I fare against the experts in Week 8? My 10-3 record allowed me to move up to a tie for 3'rd place in the overall standings, only 2 wins behind the leader, CBS Sports' Jamey Eisenberg. There's plenty of time left in the season to catch the experts at the front of the pack. In 2013, it took me until Week 15 to catch - and surpass - the leaders. TST's own Ryan Van Bibber stands in a tie for 102'nd overall, with a record of 80-53 on the season.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? Arizona and Indianapolis both won and covered the spread. The Rams upset the heavily favored 49ers, covering the spread in the process. Record for the week: 2-1.
2014 NFL Team Records
|NFL ATS RANKINGS|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 10
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Cincinnati||Cleveland||Cin 7||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||27 17|
|Buffalo||Kansas City||KC 1||Kansas City||Kansas City||24 17|
|New Orleans||San Francisco||NO 5||New Orleans||San Francisco||24 20|
|NY Jets||Pittsburgh||Pit 4 1/2||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||27 14|
|Tampa Bay||Atlanta||Even||Atlanta||Atlanta||21 16|
|Jacksonville||Dallas||Dal 7 1/2||Dallas||Dallas||23 14|
|Baltimore||Tennessee||Bal 10 1/2||Baltimore||Tennessee||27 17|
|Oakland||Denver||Den 12 1/2||Denver||Denver||31 10|
|Arizona||St. Louis||Ari 8||Arizona||St. Louis||20 17|
|Seattle||NY Giants||Sea 10 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||28 14|
|Green Bay||Chicago||GB 8||Green Bay||Green Bay||30 20|
|Philadelphia||Carolina||Phi 7||Philadelphia||Carolina||20 14|
|Detroit||Miami||Det 2 1/2||Detroit||Detroit||24 20|
|Byes||New England||San Diego|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Denver over Oakland - The Broncos will be looking to get back on track after the debacle in New England. What better way to do so than against the winless Raiders.
Green Bay over Chicago - These two teams are heading in opposite directions. Look for Aaron Rodgers to light it up against a feeble Bears defense.
Seattle over NY Giants - Seattle can't afford to lose any more ground to Arizona in the NFC West race. The Giants are sliding, having lost three games in a row.
St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
Keys for the Rams vs. Arizona
- The Rams must get off to a fast start in Sunday's game. In each of their seven victories last season, the Rams were either tied or leading at the half. The Rams were leading or tied at the half in all three of their victories this season.
- Winning the turnover battle. In six of their seven wins last year, the Rams had a positive turnover differential, and a zero differential in the other victory. The correlation is holding true again this season. The Rams had a negative turnover differential in two of their losses, a zero differential in the other three losses, and a zero turnover differential in their three wins. The Arizona Cardinals rank 2nd in the league in turnover differential (plus 10).
- The Rams must establish the running game, and sort out the carries in their running back-by-committee approach. Tre Mason should see the bulk of the carries. The Rams' re-vamped offensive line must control the line of scrimmage, against an Arizona rushing defense ranked 3rd in the NFL.
- Minimizing mistakes and penalties. The Rams have committed too many costly penalties in their first eight games. They need to minimize the infractions, and play a disciplined game, if they expect to come away with the win on Sunday.
- The Cardinals have a wide array of receiving targets that will test the Rams' secondary. The Rams will need to find a way to minimize the impact of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and rookie sensation John Brown. Janoris Jenkins and Marcus Roberson are likely to be unavailable for this game due to injuries. Trumaine Johnson and E.J. Gaines will be the starting CB's. The Rams' depth will be tested by the Cards' vertical passing game.
- Pressuring QB Carson Palmer. William Hayes will once again replace the injured Chris Long, who is missed for both his strong weekly performances and his leadership. Many have underestimated his impact on the Rams' defensive line. The defensive line has finally begun to earn its preseason moniker "Sack City", and will once again need to dominate. Carson Palmer has been on fire as of late.
Prediction: Arizona 20 - Rams 17
I’m not sure which Rams team we’re going to see this coming weekend. The team Kansas City pummelled in Week 8, or the one that played inspired football in the victory over San Francisco in Week 9. The Rams are playing their third consecutive road game, a tough go at the best of times. Arizona is difficult to beat at the University of Phoenix Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home this season, and 10-2 at home dating back to 2013. The Cards are 7-1 this season, mostly because of their efficiency in the red zone, both offensively and defensively. They give up big chunks of yards (19th in the league), but rank 5th in the league in points allowed per game (19.5). The same holds true offensively. Arizona ranks 23rd in yards per game, but 14th in points scored per game (24.0). I’ll give Arizona the edge in this game, with the Rams winning in St. Louis later in the season.
Perspective On The Rams Versus The Cardinals
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Josh Weinfuss preview the game between the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
From STATS/New York Times:
- Arizona won its fourth consecutive game last week at Dallas, 28-17, and has the NFL's best record at 7-1. It ties the best eight-game start in franchise history, with five other seasons -- most recently 1974. The Cardinals have opened 8-1 just twice in team history, in 1925 and 1948.
- St. Louis won 13-10 at San Francisco last week, recovering a Colin Kaepernick fumble at the goal line with two seconds remaining to preserve the victory. The Rams had been 0-5-1 in their previous six trips to San Francisco, last winning in 2007. The Rams' three wins this season have come by a total of seven points.
- The Rams have won three of the last four games in this series, though each team won at home in last year's meetings. The all-time series -- which dates to 1937 -- is dead-even at 34-34-2 (regular season only).
- Among quarterbacks to have made their NFL debut this season, Austin Davis ranks first in passing yards (1785), pass TD (11; tied with Derek Carr), completion percentage (64.2 percent), and passer rating (87.8). Davis is not considered a rookie because he spent time on the Rams' and Dolphins' rosters the previous two years.
- Carson Palmer has thrown at least two touchdown passes in all five of his starts this season, and in six straight starts going back to last year. That's the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Peyton Manning, 14), and the longest by a Cardinals QB since Kurt Warner in 2008 (eight straight).
- Arizona ranks third in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 79.6 yards per game. The Cardinals haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 18 games, the second-longest active streak in the league (Ravens, 19).
CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan and Pete Prisco preview the game between the Cardinals and the Rams: