The Los Angeles Rams just staked their spot atop the NFC food chain, taking a big bite out of the defending Super Bowl champs to move to 3-0 last Sunday. Los Angeles stays home for a key NFC West war with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Bookies opened L.A. as big as 6-point NFL betting chalk at home but early money on Arizona chipped that spread down to -5.5 then forced a heavy move to -4.5 Tuesday afternoon. The Cardinals are also undefeated, behind an offense scoring a league-high 34.3 points per game.
Here are our NFL free picks and predictions for Cardinals at Rams on October 3.
Cardinals vs Rams odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
After the big win over Tampa Bay, the Rams hit the board as 6-point home favorites versus Arizona. That line dropped below the key number to -5.5 on Monday and then sunk to the dead number of -4.5 as of Tuesday afternoon. The total for this game opened at 53.5 and has climbed to 54.5 points.
Cardinals vs Rams picks
Picks made on 9/28/2021 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Cardinals vs Rams game info
• Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
• Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021
• Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
• TV: FOX
Cardinals at Rams betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NFL weather info.
Cardinals: Kelvin Beachum T (Out), Justin Murray T (Out).
Rams: Justin Hollins LB (Out), Bobby Brown DT (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Rams are 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games as home favorites. Find more NFL betting trends for Cardinals vs. Rams.
Cardinals vs Rams predictions
Los Angeles -4.5 (-110)
I’ll be honest. This line move baffles me.
When the spread opened at Rams -6, I fully expected that to climb to -6.5 after L.A. dismantled the Bucs’ defense in Week 3. When it dropped to -4.5 on Tuesday, I frantically searched for Rams injury news but couldn’t find anything that would demand this adjustment.
Sure, Los Angeles could be ripe for a letdown after such a statement victory over the defending champs, but this is a big divisional matchup in the NFC West and will hold a lot of sway as the schedule plays out.
Arizona actually finds itself in the tougher situational spot in Week 4. This will be the Cardinals’ second straight road game and their third away outing in the opening four weeks of play. The scoring prowess is impressive but two of those games came against defenses ranked 26th and 29th in EPA per play in 2021.
On top of those inflated numbers, the pass protection needed to create all that scoring may not be there in Week 4. Arizona’s offensive line is dealing with a rash of injuries, leaving guard Justin Pugh and tackles Kelvin Beachum and Justin Murray questionable for Sunday.
The Cardinals were able to endure despite those injuries against the Jaguars’ declawed defense, but now they face the most dangerous front seven in football. Los Angeles brings the blitz on 33 percent of opponents’ dropbacks and while it has recorded only nine sacks on the season, L.A. has done a good job bottling up Cardinals QB Kyler Murray in the past.
Last December, Murray had three passing TDs in a 38-28 loss to Los Angeles but completed only 21 of 39 passes for 173 yards with one interception, two sacks for 33 yards lost, two fumbles (one lost), and a mere 15 yards on five carries.
The Rams have been betting gold against their divisional rivals in recent years, going 7-0-1 ATS in the last eight meetings with the Cardinals.
Over 54.5 (-110)
Even with Murray’s struggles against the Rams in Week 13 of last year, Arizona still put up 28 points and the two teams combined for 66 tallies – laying waste to the 49-point total. This Week 4 number debuted at 53.5 and climbed to 54.5 and may go higher once the point-loving public climbs aboard.
Los Angeles’ front seven may still bring the heat but the secondary has stunk, allowing more than 281 yards per game, including 411 passing yards to Tom Brady and the Bucs last Sunday. The Rams have been very “bend but don’t break” through three games, watching teams move the chains but slamming the door on the goal line in the first two games. Arizona has cashed in 10 of its 13 red zone tries for touchdowns and Tampa Bay was able to break L.A. for three TDs on four trips inside the Rams’ 20-yard line.
Now we come to the point in the preview where we gush over Matthew Stafford and Los Angeles’ offense. You may want a bib.
Stafford looks right at home in L.A. and enters Week 4 leading the NFL in QBR (82.6). He’s thrown for nine TDs to one INT and suffered only three sacks, with the offensive line boasting a pass block win rate of 69 percent – the third highest in the land. He’s kept defenses on their toes too, averaging only 8.6 intended air yards per attempt but connecting on an NFL-best six passes of 40 yards or more.
The Cardinals’ stop unit sits No. 3 in pass defense DVOA at Football Outsiders and has registered 10 totals sacks with a blitz rate of 40.2 percent. However, this is the toughest offensive line Arizona has faced so far and Stafford has been pressure on only 13.3 percent of his dropbacks. Not to mention, he’s known for making foes pay for bringing the blitz.
Tyler Higbee TD anytime (+170)
The levee finally broke for Tyler Higbee TD bettors in Week 3, with the Rams tight end pulling in a 6-yard toss to open the scoring against the Buccaneers.
Higbee was much hyped before the start of the season, given Stafford’s previous success with TEs in Detroit, but couldn’t find pay dirt in the first two games. With the Cardinals dialing up the pressure, Stafford will need a release valve and the 6-foot-6 Higbee is a fine option, especially on red zone tries.
Higbee scored one of his five touchdowns in 2020 in that Week 13 shootout with the Cardinals and had a TD in both 2019 matchups with Arizona (only had three TDs on the year).
In fact, Higbee has snagged four of his 13 career touchdowns in 10 games versus Arizona (almost 31 percent). We like those chances.
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