Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

by Andrew Healy

Once in a while, the top upset for this article is completely obvious. If the Eagles had held on to beat the Patriots in 2007 as 24.5-point underdogs, chances are that would have been the game for AGS that week. But most weeks, like this past one, we end up debating what game to write about. And that's part of the fun.

Before we get to breaking down the game that we picked, I thought it might be interesting to check out the contenders. So let's start by recounting the week's upsets, how surprising each one was, and giving a brief takeaway on each one. Depending on how this goes, we may continue with the upset countdown in upcoming weeks.

This Week in Upsets

Week 4 Upsets
Underdog Favorite Score Line Pre-game WP*
STL ARI 24-22 7 30.1%
NYG BUF 24-10 5.5 34.1%
CHI OAK 22-20 3 41.2%
WAS PHI 23-20 3 41.2%
*Win probabilities from Pro-Football-Reference's model based on Stern (1991)


13 comments, Last at 07 Oct 2015, 7:31pm

2 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Those Cardinals uniforms are awful. Serves them right.

Cleveland going 1-15 as big underdogs is worth highlighting. They weren't that far away on Sunday, but I guess "not far away" is pretty much the team motto.

4 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

The Rams getting the win is considered an "upset" by the public I am sure, but I dont think its surprising to anyone outside of the lowest common denominator. The Cards had yet to play an actual NFL level defense and the Rams have arguably the best defensive front in football.

That OL in Zona may still be the achilles heel in the long run, especially when they have to go on the road to face teams that actually get after the passer. Palmer is a statue and Arians offense is one that is predicated on long developing route combos and deep QB drops and with an offensive line that is still a major work in progress that could spell trouble against the better defensive fronts in football.

That Big/Heavy Dime defense that Zona employs works great against pass first teams but against teams that have a power back (Gurley) and will play smash mouth football for 60 minutes it becomes susceptible to giving up long gains on the ground and we saw that on Sunday.

With that said, the turnovers were absolutely brutal.

7 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Well it was obviously a surprise to the guys setting the lines in Vegas. And the line stayed solid at around -6.5 all week, right until kick-off, so there was no strong evidence of any 'sharp' money backing St Louis.

Watching the game, Palmer did get hit and hurried throughout, but no more than you would have expected against a defensive line that good. They still moved the ball well throughout.

Really, the Cardinals should not have lost that game. Gaining nearly 500 yards of offence but scoring only one TD tells you all you need to know.

13 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Exactly. I was one of those with money on the Cardinals. And if you told me they were going to gain 447 yards of offense I would've bet even more.

The Cardinals almost certainly win this game if they aren't -3 in turnovers; heck, they were driving for the game-winning FG in Rams' territory with less than 2 minutes even WITH being -3 in turnovers. I don't have more recent data but found an analysis from a couple years ago that found teams with a +3 turnover ratio or better were 244-17-1 from 2008 to 2012. The fact that the Cardinals even had a chance, given the turnovers, tells you they are pretty good.

Not to mention that they got hosed out of recovering what was a clear fumble inside the Rams' 10-yard line based on an inexplicable ruling that the runner's forward progress was stopped... a play that, like the Detroit/Seattle end-zone "bat" play, is not reviewable.

Basically, every ball bounced the Rams' way this game. And the Cardinals still almost won.

5 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Also worth noting is that Arizona's red zone magic completely vanished. If you wanted to be mean about it, I could go for an article pulling point by point from last week's rash of "Arizona: Best Team of All Time or Just Best in the NFC?" essays and contrasting them with animated gifs from the game.

6 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Picking nits here, but the article states "Gurley became just the fourth running back under the age of 22 (since 1960) to run for over 100 yards". But the table indicates Gurley was the 6th such back to achieve this feat.

I'll add that while Gurley achieved the 100+ rushing mark in the 4th week of the season, Jerome Bettis ran for 100+ at the age of 21 in week 5 of the 1993 season. While it was week 5, the date was Oct 3, 1993. Gurley achieved his first 100 on Oct 4, very similar time frames.

8 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Pretty cool analysis of that fumble. I was amazed that a Ram recovered but didn't realize he basically just jumped on the pile from a few yards away.

A little surprised you didn't also mention that two plays later, the Cardinals recovered ANOTHER fumble, but then it was somewhat inexplicably ruled a non-fumble because the runner had been determined to have had his forward progress stopped. The replay clearly showed the ball was jarred loose almost immediately after being hit, so it made no sense that the official could have determined forward progress was stopped in the millisecond between being hit and fumbling, and yet since that was the ruling on the field, it could not be reviewed.

It seems that now that the NFL allows a clear recovery to stand as a turnover even after the whistle has blown on a play where the runner is brought down to the ground normally, they could allow the same on a forward progress play. I'm not saying that a team should be able to rip the ball out of a RB's arms after seven guys stack him up and the play has been blown dead, but here, it's obvious the ball was loose BEFORE the forward progress call could possibly have been made. Very dumb to have a rule that the fumble could be reviewed if the question is, "Did he fumble before or after his knee hit the ground?" but not if the question is, "Did he fumble before or after his forward progress was stopped."

11 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Your Monday night deadline prevents you from including discussion of the Lions/Seahawks in the lead in. It would be interesting to see how many historical games have swung on one blown rules call (not a judgement call, just the entire officiating team not knowing a clear rule). That was about as blatant as I can recall, and would have put the Lions in the running for some AGS love stories.

12 Re: Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Cardinals

Yeah, as a Cardinals' fan, it's painful to think that we would have a good chance of being 4-0 if we weren't deprived of a fumble recovery inside the Rams' 10, and the Seahawks could be 1-3 if that penalty was called. The entire NFC West picture is much different because of those two inexplicable calls.