When the Arizona Cardinals face the St. Louis Rams, it's guaranteed to be one of the most exciting Thursday night games of the season.
I don't think we will see too many fireworks in this game. The Cardinals have been one of the biggest surprises this season, starting 4-0 with big wins over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
Meanwhile, St. Louis is quietly a solid, 2-2 team that might have been 3-1 had the team not blown a late lead against the Detroit Lions in Week 1.
However dull this game might end up being—and the potential is there for a snoozer—it is nonetheless a key, early-season game in the upstart NFC West. Let's get previewing.
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
When: Thursday, October 4 at 8:20 p.m.
Watch: NFL Network
Spread: Cardinals (-2), according to Bovada
As I've mentioned previously, I think this is a trap game for the Cardinals. They barely survived with a win against the Dolphins, and the Rams are 2-0 at home thus far this season and are a better bunch than they get credit for.
I know that given the Cardinals' 4-0 record, you probably want to lay the points. Don't do it. Either stay away or take the points with St. Louis—I smell an upset.
Over/Under: 39, according to Bovada
As sad as it will be to watch, I like the under in this game, with the defenses easily stifling two very mediocre offenses. Think a 16-13 type game. And a really ugly one to watch, at that.
Cardinals Injuries (via ESPN)
QB John Skelton, Ankle, Questionable
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Groin, Questionable
TE Todd Heap, Knee, Questionable
DT Darnell Dockett, Hamstring, Questionable
Rams Injuries (via ESPN)
WR Danny Amendola, Ankle, Probable
WR Brandon Gibson, Knee, Questionable
RB Steven Jackson, Groin Probable
I like Larry Fitzgerald and Steven Jackson as obvious starts. Danny Amendola and Ryan Williams are excellent flex options. Andre Roberts is an intriguing option at your flex in deeper leagues or if you're really in a pinch. Both defenses are solid starts. Stay away from everyone else.
Keys to Cardinals Win
St. Louis is 26th in the NFL in rush defense (135.3 yards per game allowed), and at some point, Kevin Kolb is going to get skittish in the pocket and throw too many interceptions. That doesn't need to happen against the Rams, however, if Arizona commits to the running game early and often.
If it does, Williams could finally have his breakout game. Oh, and the Cardinals will go 5-0.
Keys to Rams Win
The Rams need to be solid in all three phases of the game. The Cardinals thrive on turnovers (they've forced 10 on the year) and making plays on special teams. St. Louis must play smart, disciplined football and protect the ball.
And they need to score touchdowns when they get the chance. Offenses can move down the field on the Cardinals—they're 18th in total yards allowed—but scoring has been a problem, as the Cardinals are only allowing 15.3 points per game.
Red-zone efficiency will be key for the Rams. If they kick too many field goals, it could spell trouble.
You might want to watch The Big Bang Theory and Parks and Recreation instead of this game—it could get pretty boring. In a defensive struggle, I see the Rams pulling out the 16-13 upset.