Line: Rams -4.5

The 10-6 Arizona Cardinals face off with the 6-7 Rams on Thursday Night Football. The Cardinals faced a red hot Kansas City Chiefs and found themselves down 14-6 at the half. At that point the defense decided that it was going to take the game over and they did. They shit out the Chiefs in the second half and were able to edge out a 17-14 victory. The result had a lot to do with the performance of backup running back Kermynn Willimas who spent most of the week on the scout team, acting as Jamal Charles and preparing the defense for what Charles does in the Kansas city offense. He got his chance to perform on the big stage when cardinals starting running back Andre Ellington went down with a knee injury early in the game, leaving 19 carries and an amazing 100 yards rushing for a player who was just called up from the practice squad two days earlier. With starting quarterback Carson Palmer out for the season with a knee injury and now without Ellington, the Cardinals have multiple excuses to give up on the season, yet the team is a reflection of their head coach, Bruce Arians, and they will continue to use a “next man up” philosophy. Palmer’s replacement Drew Stanton is nowhere near as explosive but he is a game manager who will avoid turnovers and keep his team in the game. He finished 15-30 for 239 yards and a touchdown. They did this without much from receiver Larry Fitzgerald who played after missing two games but was unproductive.

The Rams faced off with a Washington Redskins team that is in the midst of a miserable season and took full and=vantage of their weakness’s. They shut out the Redskins 24-0 for their second consecutive shutout to get within one game of 500 on the season. Shaun Hill has found himself as the starting quarterback for the second time this season and he did a masterful job managing the game and allowing his dominant defense to do the work. He finished 16/22 for 213 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Running back Tre Mason had 20 carries for 66 yards. Tight End Jarret Cook had a big day with 4 catches for 61 yards and 2 big touchdowns.

The Rams are a team that is playing its best football late in the season while the Cardinals are trying to overcome yet another big injury to one of its key pieces. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is listed as questionable and his health will be critical for Arizona, as they don’t have much depth in the secondary. The Cardinals offense has struggled since Palmers injury and the Rams defense has been dominant as of late with 13 sacks over its last 2 games. The key will be getting enough of a rushing attack from the untested Williams to keep the aggressive Rams defense honest so that Stanton will have enough time to get the ball down the field.

Pick: Cardinals +4.5

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