Thursday Night Football: Cards vs. Rams

What better way to spend Thursday night than at home or at your favorite watering hole watching the NFL. We’ve witnessed some good Thursday nighters so far this season and we should have another doozy on our hands as the undefeated, that’s right undefeated, Arizona Cardinals take on the Rams in St. Louis. Not only is this a division game involving the surprise team of the season so far, but it features an interesting matchup and a spread of just 1-2 points (depending on where you bet). Odds makers certainly think this is going to be a tight one, so even if you don’t have money riding on the outcome, you won’t want to miss it if you’re an NFL fan.

Both teams are obviously improved since last year, as the Cardinals are off to their best start in nearly 40 years and the Rams have already matched last season’s win total. The 49ers are as good as advertised this year, but not many, check that, nobody thought the Cards would be in first place in what has turned out to be an ultra-competitive NFC West at any point this season. Likewise, the Rams at 2-2, although not as much of a shock, has caught NFL fans off-guard as well.

Can the Cards continue their improbable start to 2012?

Arizona is coming off another close win against Miami in overtime, 24-21. The defense has been solid for the Cards so far this year, as last week marked the first time they have allowed more than 20 points in a game, including wins over New England and Philadelphia. The offense has also been sharper since Kevin Kolb joined the lineup midway through the opener against Seattle.

The Rams are coming off an impressive defensive performance against the Seahawks, holding them to 13 points in a 19-13 win. The offense has struggled at times, but seems to have a nice balance with Sam Bradford slowly improving as an NFL starter and with still one of the league’s better runners in the backfield in Stephen Jackson.

Look for Jackson to get plenty of touches today

The Rams certainly play better at home, which is where their two wins have come this season, and that may be why the spread is so close, but surprisingly the Cardinals play much better on the road. In fact, they’ve won seven straight road games in St. Louis and as we all know, are great in close games, so it would seem that the Cards have a distinct advantage, even in the Edward Jones Dome today.

I like the Rams this season and they could end up being a surprise team as well, but the tough part for them is the competitive division they are in. This game is just another example of them running into a better team. Since the spread is so small, it would seem crazy to bet against a team that is currently 4-0 and has won numerous close games including last week’s overtime victory of the Phins. The cool, edgy pick is to take the Rams, but the smart pick is to take the Cards. Be smart and pick Arizona to cover today as it improves to 5-0 on the season.