Both Los Angeles teams head into Week 3 with 1-1 records and a good opportunity to get on the plus side of .500. The Rams are 3½- or 4-point favorites against the Cardinals heading into the first of six games against NFC West opponents.
Two weeks into the season, we’ve seen big upsets, surprising 2-0 teams, unsurprising 0-2 teams and a lot of sloppy football with few teams taking the preseason seriously. The more games we get, the more everything should settle in, hopefully leading to a little more predictability for bettors.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 48.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s unbelievable comeback last week was capped off by a game-winning scoop-and-score in overtime, as the Raiders coughed it up on the fringes of field-goal range. That potential kick could have been a game-winner for Las Vegas and this line likely would have been 4.5 or 5. Instead, the Cardinals walked it off and erased a 16-point deficit with less than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
This is where you really want to pay attention to overreactions in the betting market. The Rams beat the Falcons by only four, but Atlanta scored 17 points in garbage time, as the Rams led by 25 points late into the third quarter. Sure, there are concerns for the Rams, who committed three more turnovers and also had a major special teams mishap with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. Matthew Stafford also looked a lot more comfortable and Los Angeles cashed in on four of five red-zone opportunities.
The lack of attention to details was disappointing, but the Rams capitalized on their chances and built a nice cushion before getting careless. Even experienced, winning teams need a reminder every now and then about playing 60 minutes, and we should see a better effort this week against the Cardinals, who have allowed the most points in the NFL and rank in the bottom five in yards per play allowed.
The Cardinals have one of the league’s worst secondaries on paper and have only one sack to go with zero interceptions. This should be a get-right game for the Rams, who are loaded with talent, but have to start minimizing the mistakes.
Pick: Rams -3.5
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.