Well, Week 4 was certainly nothing to write home about, but I did manage to keep pace with my nemesis, the Little Coin. But now we’re at the quarter pole of the 2012 NFL season, and as the season marches on, I have fewer excuses for performances like Week 3. This is not to say I expect perfection, just gradual improvement. We’re learning more about the landscape of the NFL. We know Sean Payton and Gregg Williams were extremely valuable to the Saints. We know the NFC East is, per usual, going to be a dog fight. We know Matt Ryan has taken a major step in his development as a quarterback. We know Peyton Manning may not be the Peyton Manning of old, but he’s damn sure better than Tim Tebow, who managed himself a playoff W in 2011. We know to stop and think before we scoff at the idea of the Arizona Cardinals winning the NFC West….
…which is a convenient place to segue into my Thursday Night Pick.
ST. LOUIS (+1.5) over Arizona
Yes, I know I just discouraged dismissing the Cardinals as contenders in the NFC West. I’m not. Their defense has been other-worldly. Patrick Peterson has taken a major leap, and is no longer just a tremendous athlete playing corner, but a legitimate Pro-Bowl candidate at CB. The Cardinals have had some good fortune and won some tight games to be where they are, but I’m not sure their offense is reliable enough to continue to win tight contests. I like the Rams to pound the ball on the ground tonight and to keep Sam Bradford’s drop backs short and his release quick. Short slants, bubble screens, curls. The Ram D will also benefit from a home crowd in the Edward Jones Dome, which should generate enough noise to rattle Kevin Kolb. Put me down for an upset special and a one game edge on the Little Coin.