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Dubs' Pigskin Picks & Rams-Cardinals Preview - Week 4

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This week, the Rams travel to Glendale for a tough road game against the red hot Arizona Cardinals. Can the Rams pull off the upset and climb closer to the .500 mark? Can Dubs make up some ground on the leaders in the weekly picks contest?

The first three weeks of the NFL season are now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a pair of disappointing losses to the Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers. This week, the Rams travel to Glendale for a tough road game against the red hot Arizona Cardinals. Can the Rams pull off the upset and climb closer to the .500 mark? Can Dubs make up some ground on the leaders in the weekly picks contest?

Dubs' Pigskin Picks & Rams Preview returns for a third season. I'll be predicting the winners (both straight up and against the spread) for all 256 regular season games. In addition, each week I'll be featuring 3 games in my "Hot Picks Against The Spread". Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, and media types. This year, they're tracking 134 experts on a weekly basis. I'm competing against them again this season, and will publish the weekly results! In each of the last two seasons, I've managed to tie for first place in the overall standings. Can Dubs make it three years in a row?

Week 1 Results

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 10  6 11  4  1 3  0 0  1
Season 10  6 11  4  1 3  0 0  1
Win Percentage 62.5 68.8 100.0 0.0

Week 2 Results

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 10  6 12  4 3  0 0  1
Season 20  12 23  8  1 6  0 0  2
Win Percentage 62.5 74.2 100.0 0.0

Week 3 Results

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 13  3 12  4 3  0 1  0
Season 33  15 35  12  1 9  0 1  2
Win Percentage 68.8 74.5 100.0 33.3

How did I fare against the experts in Weeks 1 through 3? My record over the past 3 weeks was good enough to land in a tie for 6th place in the overall standings, 3 behind the leader Geoff Ulrich of Draft Kings. I've been red hot against the spread this season. For the most part, I've picked favorites to cover the spread. That strategy has produced outstanding results, including a perfect 9-0 in my Hot Picks Against The Spread and a 74.5% winning percentage overall against the spread.

2015 NFL Team Records

NFL ATS RANKINGS
Straight-Up Against The Spread Over/Under
Team Total Home Away Total Home Away Total Home Away
Arizona Cardinals 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0
Atlanta Falcons 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0
Baltimore Ravens 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 2-1-0 1-0-0 1-1-0
Buffalo Bills 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0
Carolina Panthers 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 1-1-1 1-0-1 0-1-0
Chicago Bears 0-3-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 0-3-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 2-1-0 2-0-0 0-1-0
Cincinnati Bengals 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 2-1-0 0-1-0 2-0-0
Cleveland Browns 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0
Dallas Cowboys 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 1-2-0 0-2-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 2-0-0 0-1-0
Denver Broncos 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0
Detroit Lions 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0
Green Bay Packers 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0
Houston Texans 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-1-1 1-1-0 0-0-1
Indianapolis Colts 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0
Kansas City Chiefs 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0
Miami Dolphins 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 2-1-0 1-0-0 1-1-0
Minnesota Vikings 2-1-0 2-0-0 0-1-0 2-1-0 2-0-0 0-1-0 0-3-0 0-2-0 0-1-0
New England Patriots 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-1 1-0-1 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0
New Orleans Saints 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 2-1-0 0-1-0 2-0-0
New York Giants 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0
New York Jets 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0
Oakland Raiders 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0
Philadelphia Eagles 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 0-3-0 0-1-0 0-2-0
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-1-0 1-0-0 1-1-0 2-0-1 1-0-0 1-0-1 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0
San Diego Chargers 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0
San Francisco 49ers 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0 2-1-0 0-1-0 2-0-0
Seattle Seahawks 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0
St. Louis Rams 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 1-2-0 1-0-0 0-2-0
Tennessee Titans 1-2-0 0-1-0 1-1-0 2-1-0 1-0-0 1-1-0 3-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0
Washington Redskins 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 1-1-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 0-2-0 1-0-0

NFL Crystal Ball

Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 4

Home Away Spread Straight Up Vs. Spread Score
Miami NY Jets Even NY Jets NY Jets 21  17
Indianapolis Jacksonville Ind 10 Indianapolis Jacksonville 31  17
Buffalo NY Giants Buf 5.5 Buffalo NY Giants 19  17
Tampa Bay Carolina Car 3 Carolina Carolina 24  10
Washington Philadelphia Phi 3 Philadelphia Philadelphia 27  14
Chicago Oakland Oak 3 Oakland Oakland 24  20
Atlanta Houston Atl 7 Atlanta Atlanta 27  19
Cincinnati Kansas City Cin 4 Cincinnati Cincinnati 24  17
San Diego Cleveland SD 9 San Diego Cleveland 23  17
San Francisco Green Bay GB 9.5 Green Bay Green Bay 33  17
Arizona St. Louis Ari 7 Arizona St. Louis 23  17
Denver Minnesota Den 7 Denver Denver 30  20
New Orleans Dallas Even Dallas Dallas 21 20
Seattle Detroit Sea 10.5 Seattle Seattle 23  10
Pittsburgh Baltimore Bal 2.5 Baltimore Baltimore 24  20
Byes: New England Tennessee

Hot Picks Against The Spread

Cincinnati over Kansas City - The Bengals sport a perfect record, both in the standings and against the spread. Andy Dalton is lighting it up with A.J. Green and company.

Carolina over Tampa Bay - Vegas is still a little leery of the Panthers and their 3-0 record, as evidenced by the minuscule 3-point spread. Bets are currently running 68% in favor of Carolina covering the spread.

Denver over Minnesota - The Broncos have won their last nine games at home and are 3-0 against the spread this season. The defense has been outstanding and will carry the day against a Vikings team still trying to find an identity.

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 14 victories over the last 2 plus seasons, the Rams were either tied or leading at the half.
  • Winning the turnover battle. In 2014, the Rams were 0-6 in games with a negative turnover differential. In contrast, the Rams were 3-0 in games with a positive turnover differential and 3-4 in games with an even turnover differential. Finally, the Rams were 4-0 in games where they didn't turn over the football. In what figures to be a tight, defensive struggle against the Cardinals, turnovers will likely play a significant role in the outcome.
  • The Rams must establish the running game against an Arizona defense ranked 9th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (88.7) for the 2015 season. The Rams have struggled to rush the football 3 games into the 2015 season, ranking 29th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (71.3).
  • Minimizing mistakes and penalties. When the Rams play disciplined football, they win games. In 2014, the Rams were 3-1 when they had a positive team penalty yards differential, and 3-9 when they had more penalty yards than their opponent. In last weeks 12-6 loss to Pittsburgh, the Rams committed 9 penalties totalling 97 yards.
  • Pressuring QB Carson Palmer and containing WR Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals' high-flying offense can hurt you in many different ways. Palmer and Fitzgerald are clicking and form a dangerous duo.
  • Nick Foles will lead a conservative, ball-controlling Rams offense. A clean, mistake-free game is all that's expected of him. He'll need to connect deep with Jared Cook and Kenny Britt in order to open up the Rams' running game.
Prediction: Arizona 23 - Rams 17

If this game was in St. Louis, I'd be picking the Rams to win. This will be a close one, with the Rams covering the 7 point spread. Defense will dominate in this game. Arizona is playing very good football and may be the best team in the NFL at this point in the season. The Rams' struggles can be attributed mostly to an anemic offense. They will need more time to gel. Todd Gurley will get more touches this week but still needs time to shake off the rust.

Perspective On The Rams Versus Arizona

From New York Times/STATS:

  1. The Cardinals have won 13 of their last 17 meetings with the Rams dating back to December 2006. In the teams' most recent meeting, December 11, 2014 at St. Louis, all the scoring was done by the two kickers, as Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro made four field goals and St. Louis' Greg Zuerlein made two in a 12-6 Arizona win -- the first matchup between the teams without a touchdown by either team.
  2. The Rams lost at home to Pittsburgh on Sunday, 12-6. It was the first time that both the Rams and their opponents managed fewer than 260 total yards in a game since October 31, 2010 vs. Carolina.
  3. Arizona beat the 49ers 47-7 at home last week, the franchise's largest margin of victory in a game since beating the Oilers 44-0 on November 1, 1970. The Cardinals have scored 126 points, tied for the fourth most by any team through three games in NFL history, and they have scored 47 or more in back-to-back games for the second time in franchise history (November 21-28, 1948).
  4. Nick Foles, a graduate of the University of Arizona, is making his second career start as a pro in the state of Arizona. In his first, on October 26, 2014, Foles threw for 411 yards, becoming just the fifth quarterback to throw for 400 or more yards at University of Phoenix Stadium.
  5. In last week's win, Carson Palmer threw for 311 yards, his 36th career game with 300 or more passing yards. The Cardinals have gone 6-3 when Palmer has thrown for 300+ yards for them; prior to joining Arizona, Palmer's teams were 6-21 when he passed for 300 yards.
  6. After recording his first career three-touchdown game in Week 2, Larry Fitzgerald caught two more touchdowns last week, becoming the first Cardinal with five touchdown catches in a two-game span since Roy Green had five from November 6-13, 1983. Fitzgerald has 16 touchdown catches against the Rams, third most all-time behind Jerry Rice (20) and Don Hutson (18).

NFL Now Preview: Rams vs. Cardinals:

Cole Wright and Maurice Jones-Drew from the NFL Network discuss the keys to victory for each team in the Week 4 matchup between the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.

Fisher Up Front - Week 4 - Reporter Dani Klupenger talks to head coach Jeff Fisher prior to Sunday's road game against the Cardinals.

Rams-Cardinals Capsule by the Associated Press:

ST. LOUIS (1-2) at ARIZONA (3-0)

Sunday, Oct. 6, 4:25 p.m., Fox

OPENING LINE - Cardinals by 4

RECORD VS SPREAD - Rams 1-2, Cardinals 3-0

SERIES RECORD - Cardinals lead 36-34-3

LAST MEETING - Cardinals beat Rams 12-6, Dec. 11, 2014

LAST WEEK - Rams lost to Steelers 12-6; Cardinals beat 49ers 47-7

AP PRO32 RANKINGS - Rams No. 19, Cardinals No. 4 (tie)

RAMS OFFENSE - OVERALL (32), RUSH (29), PASS (29)

RAMS DEFENSE - OVERALL (23), RUSH (8), PASS (25)

CARDINALS OFFENSE - OVERALL (6), RUSH (11), PASS (11)

CARDINALS DEFENSE - OVERALL (28), RUSH (22), PASS (23)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Cardinals are 3-1 against Rams under coach Bruce Arians. ... Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald has as many TDs (5) as entire Rams team. ... In first quarter, Rams have been outscored 20-0, Cardinals outscored opponents 35-10. .... Arizona has 126 points through three games, Rams 50. ... St. Louis has sacked opposing QBs 13 times, Arizona's Carson Palmer has been sacked once, fewest in NFL. ... Rams RB Todd Gurley rushed for 9 yards on six carries in his Rams debut last week. ... St. Louis has five first-round draft picks on defense. ... Arizona is 15-3 at home under Arians. ... Cardinals' 17 TDs are third most in league history through first three games. They're first team to do it since Dallas in 1968. ... Palmer has nine straight victories and is 16-2 in last 18 starts. ... Fitzgerald leads NFL in receiving TDs with those five. ... Fitzgerald has caught a pass in 166 consecutive games, longest active streak in NFL. ... Arizona's 126 points are tied for fourth most in NFL history in first three games. ... Cardinals have scored at least 45 points in consecutive games for first time since 1962. ... Arizona's plus-77 point differential is highest through three games since 2007 Patriots were plus-79 en route to 16-0 season. Arizona's first three opponents have combined 1-8 record. ... Fantasy Tip: Cardinals lead NFL in red zone touchdowns conversions at 92 percent, St. Louis is 26th at 40 percent. So any Arizona WR, TE or RB might be worth playing this week.

NFL analysts Pete Prisco, Pat Kirwan and Brady Quinn from CBS Sports break down the keys for the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals, ahead of Sunday's Week 4 divisional showdown in Glendale.