CARDINALS (10-3) at RAMS (6-7), 8:25 p.m.TV: NFL.
Radio: WCBS (880); WFAN (660, 101.9, joined in progress).
LINE: Rams by 41/2; O/U: 391/2
If you dislike the NFL's modern-day rules that tilt in favor of offenses and promote high-scoring games, you'll love Thursday night's NFC West matchup that features two of the league's best young defenses.
The NFC's current top-seeded Cardinals already have equaled their win total from last season. As a quick aside, I don't know if there's been a better NFL head coach of late than Bruce Arians, who is 29-12 the last three seasons.
Don't let St. Louis' record fool you. The Rams are one of the NFL's hottest teams, which is why they are a 41/2-point home favorite vs. the NFC's No. 1 seed. St. Louis has crushed its last two opponents, albeit against cream puffs Oakland and Washington, by a combined score of 76-0. If the Rams blank the Cards, they'll be the first team since the '76 Pittsburgh Steelers with three straight shutouts.
In their last six games, the Rams have improved from No. 31 against the run to No. 10 (104.8 yards per game). Arizona is sixth in rushing "D" (92.1 ypg) and third in points allowed per game (18.3).
St. Louis has covered four straight games and five of its last six. The Cards, who are 10-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last 14 vs. the Rams and 7-3 ATS in their previous 10 in St. Louis, are a game ahead of hard-charging Seattle in the NFC West.
If the Rams control the Cards' running game, it might be a long night for QB Drew Stanton. (St. Louis is tied for seventh with 35 sacks.) Still, I think the better team keeps this close enough. But tread softly, folks.
The pick: Cardinals
TOM ROCK: Rams
BOB GLAUBER: Cardinals
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN: Rams