NFL odds and lines 2013, Week 1: Cardinals vs. Rams

USA TODAY Sports

The home team gets the nod by the oddsmakers this weekend, as the Rams are considered 4.5-point favorites over the visiting Cardinals.

The NFC West has gone from the trash to class of the NFC in just three years, and this weekend features the first head-to-head meeting in the division. The Rams will host the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in the season opener for both teams. The Rams finished third in the division last season, while the Cardinals ended the season in the fourth and final spot. OddsShark still seems to think the Rams are the better squad, as they are favored by 4.5 points at home.

Jeff Fisher and the Rams have a few new toys on offense and defense, thanks to a draft that featured several early-round picks. St. Louis will use rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin all over the field and plans to get the ball to him frequently. Look for the Rams to use new tight end Jared Cook in the slot to give quarterback Sam Bradford options on offense. The St. Louis defense will be charged with stopping Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer from connecting with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals were swept by the Rams last season, largely due to an inability to score points. In their two meetings last season, Arizona averaged just 10 points per game. New head coach Bruce Arians will have to take advantage of the double-teams that Fitzgerald causes. If second-year wide receiver Michael Floyd can get open and make plays, the Cardinals will have a shot. The Arizona defense has to force the Rams to run and take away Bradford's passing options.

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