Emotions will run high in St. Louis this week as both the Rams and the Arizona Cardinals get set for a must-win game. However, the reason for needing this win is different for both teams based on their emotions heading into this weekend. This week I’ll go over those different emotions and explain why this battle between a playoff team and a non-playoff team will end up a lot closer than you might think. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s dissect the emotions that will influence this divisional battle:
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
Last Meeting: L 24-22 vs. St. Louis (10/4/2015)
After barely getting past the San Francisco 49ers last week, I can understand some people’s hesitation about picking the Cardinals to beat the Rams. I can also understand the viewpoint of those who think the Cards will roll because the Rams look like they have given up. The truth is somewhere in the middle, as I expect a close Arizona win.
The reason the game will be close isn’t because the Cardinals are going to underestimate their opponent like they did with the 49ers or because the Rams only try against the NFC West. While both have the potential to be underlying factors, the main focus for both teams will be simpler emotions: desperation for the Rams and anger for the Cardinals.
It’s hard to believe that this is already Jeff Fisher’s fourth season with the Rams. Despite failing to reach .500 each of his first three seasons, Fisher’s job was never in jeopardy as the franchise and the fanbase accepted the rebuilding process and knew that soon the Rams would finish above .500 for the first time since 2003 and would then proceed to retake control of the NFC West. With one more loss (the Rams are currently 4-7), that streak of 11 seasons without a winning record will extend to 12. You can only sell hope to a fanbase for so long without showing results and right now the Rams are not showing results.
The Rams have proven to be thorn in every NFC West team’s side as they are currently 3-0 against the division. However, even if they sweep the division, 7-9 won’t get the Rams anywhere (this isn’t the 2010 NFC West were 7-9 earns you a division title) unless they can win games out of division against teams that they don’t know like the back of their hand.
With everything crumbling around them, the one thing they can hang their hat on (being undefeated against the NFC West) is on the line as a loss to the Cardinals would tear down the last remaining positive for this team and force the franchise to face the fact that it isn’t improving.
With all that being said, the Cardinals want this win just as much. Arizona’s loss to St. Louis during week four not only marks the Cards’ only loss in the division but also their only home loss. If the Cardinals had made one less mistake (Arizona committed three turnovers, one of which was an opening kickoff fumble that gave the Rams right from the start), a win this week would wrap up the division and the constant fear that the Seahawks will catch up would be gone.
However, this anger isn’t just from one game. There’s also the fact that last season not one but two Cardinals’ quarterbacks saw their seasons end against the Rams. While you can’t really blame the Rams for causing the injuries (especially Carson Palmer’s since it was a non-contact injury), the Cardinals still feel an emotional grudge against the Rams for being the opponent when their championship chances last season vanished.
With both teams showing such emotion, I expect a close game. However, I think that with both teams giving their all to win this game that the better team will triumph. The Cardinals are undoubtedly the better team.
Prediction: Arizona 26, St. Louis 20
How I Did With My Thursday Night Pick:
- Predicted Result: Green Bay 23, Detroit 21
- Actual Result: Green Bay 27, Detroit 23
My Week 13 NFL predictions:
- Tampa Bay 27, Atlanta 20
- Houston 17, Buffalo 12
- Chicago 23, San Francisco 13
- Cincinnati 35, Cleveland 17
- Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 20
- Baltimore 20, Miami 17
- Minnesota 26, Seattle 24
- New York Giants 30, New York Jets 23
- Denver 27, San Diego 17
- Kansas City 28, Oakland 23
- New England 38, Philadelphia 10
- Carolina 30, New Orleans 14
- Pittsburgh 34, Indianapolis 33
- Washington 27, Dallas 16
Week 12 Record: 10-6
Week 13 Record: 1-0
Season Record: 111-66 (.627)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2