Three of VSiN’s NFL handicappers sound off on Sunday’s key NFC West battle between the Los Angeles Rams (-2.5 or -3, 48.5) and Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.
Youmans: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is still bothered by a shoulder injury, which is part of the reason his production has declined. Murray has just three touchdown passes, including one via Hail Mary, in the past three games. The shoulder issue is also causing him to run less frequently, as Murray has 10 rushing attempts for 46 yards in the past two games.
Defensive coordinators also seem to be figuring out the Arizona offense and coming up with new ways to contain Murray, the diminutive dynamo. The Rams’ defensive front puts pressure on quarterbacks, and Jalen Ramsey is an elite cover corner who can handle Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins. The coaching edge clearly goes to Sean McVay, who is 6-0 with five double-digit wins against the Cardinals the past three seasons. (While some books have moved to -3, BetMGM and a few others were still offering the Rams -2.5 as of Saturday, so try to find the favorite in the market at less than a field goal.)
Youmans’ recommendation: Rams (at -2.5)
Tuley: The Cardinals, my NFC dark-horse pick, have let me down a little as they’re 6-5, though still in the playoff hunt. I still feel they’re the right side here at home, though the Rams defense concerns me here. If you give me +3.5, I’m probably on board. As for the Over/Under, both teams are 8-3 with the Under as their totals have been inflated, so I’ll take the Under here as well.
Tuley’s recommendation: Under 48.5
Dinsick: Certain divisional matchups occasionally force you to make plays outside of your numbers and the Rams-Cardinals game qualifies as such this week. These teams are reasonably similar overall strength this season, and Rams have an outstanding defense complemented by an average offense, while Murray’s emergence has carried a strong Cardinals offense assisted by an average defense.
Most of the game-specific matchups favor the Rams in my opinion, as Ramsey can provide excellent coverage on Hopkins, Aaron Donald will make quick work of the Cardinals mediocre offensive line, and when not under pressure, Jared Goff has shown flashes of the quarterback who took these Rams to the Super Bowl just two years ago.
The real mismatch, however, is with the coaching where McVay has consistently had the Cardinals’ number during his tenure; as Youmans noted, McVay is 6-0 both straight up and against the spread versus Arizona, winning by an average margin of 23 points and covering the spread by an average of 15 points. Few matchups like this exist in the NFL, and I will expect that McVay continues his dominance over Arizona until proven otherwise.
Dinsick’s recommendation: Rams -3 or better