Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: NFL betting picks, odds and analysis

Rams coach Sean McVay, right, talks to quarterback Matthew Stafford during a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2.
(Zach Bolinger / Associated Press)

If the Week 3 game between the Buccaneers and Rams was an NFC championship game preview, the NFC West co-leaders have to be pretty happy. Los Angeles played an excellent game at SoFi Stadium and came away with the 34-24 win.

Maybe the most important drive of the game was a 13-play, 67-yard monster that took eight minutes off the clock and resulted in a field goal that made it a three-possession game again. A great mix of run and pass had to give coach Sean McVay and the players a lot of confidence in the team’s offense going into Week 4 against the Cardinals.

First place is on the line in the first of six NFC West meetings for the Rams.

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5, 55)

Money has been coming in on the Cardinals in the early going. Perhaps bettors are expecting a letdown from the Rams after the big win over the Bucs. Maybe bettors are also looking at the close game against the Colts two weeks ago and see reasons for concern in this spot.

Arizona beat Jacksonville last week and gave up only 12 offensive points. Jamal Agnew’s 109-yard “kick-six” was easily the biggest play of the game for the Jaguars. The Cardinals scored 30 again, though a pick-six was part of the equation.


McVay is 8-0 straight up against the Cardinals since taking over the Rams, but this is probably the best version of the Cardinals that he has faced. It is certainly the best version of quarterback Kyler Murray, who is now the MVP front-runner in the betting markets at most books with a price of around +750.

The Rams have a strong MVP candidate of their own in quarterback Matthew Stafford in the 8-1 range. Stafford isn’t the dual threat that Murray is, but the teams are neck-and-neck in yards per play, as Arizona has 6.8 and Los Angeles has 6.7. The Rams, though, have scored on nearly 59% of their possessions, while the Cardinals have scored on 45.7%. Los Angeles leads the NFL in points per drive with 3.28. Arizona is fourth with 2.74.

The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners of Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season.

Sept. 30, 2021

The Rams are also quite a bit better on third down to this point and have played a better slate of defensive opponents. In light of all of that, this should not be a line move taken lightly. Beating the reigning Super Bowl champs, and doing so in convincing fashion, would typically lead to a bump in perception. The lookahead line here before Week 3 was -6 or -6.5. That line got bet down to -5 and even -4.5 before the Rams and Cardinals won this past weekend.

The line reopened -6 again Sunday night and once again got bet down. Sharp bettors liked the Cardinals to begin with and still like the Cardinals, even with what we saw last weekend.

This has the feel of a competitive game where the Rams win, but Arizona covers. The Cardinals have lost by double digits in seven of the last eight meetings. This game could illustrate how far they’ve come, but how they aren’t quite there yet. That seems to be what the respected bettors believe based on the line movement.


Pick: Arizona Cardinals +4.5

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