NFL picks and predictions, Week 1: Cardinals vs. Rams

Dilip Vishwanat

The Rams and the Cardinals both appear to be better teams heading into the 2013 season. Experts clearly like one more than the other this Sunday, however.

The St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals both made strong pushes to improve this offseason, particularly on offense. The Rams beefed-up the offensive line to give Sam Bradford time to facilitate an offense with young playmakers at running back and wider receiver. The Cardinals added veteran Carson Palmer to provide some stability at quarterback and hopefully help Larry Fitzgerald bounce back from a poor 2012. Both teams figure to have two of the league's strongest defenses once again.

It may be somewhat surprising, then, that experts are resoundingly picking the Rams to roll over the Cardinals in what could be a fascinating matchup between NFC West dark horses. All but two of ESPN's 11 expert picked the Rams to win. CBS Sports' crew were 9-for-9 in agreement that the Cardinals will fall. Pete Prisco explains:

"These two are improved from a year ago, and one of them might be able to make a playoff push. Both teams have good defenses, so it's all about the quarterback play. Carson Palmer and Sam Bradford have to get off to good starts. I think it will be Bradford who does it in the home opener here. The Rams pass rush might be too much for Palmer."

The Rams' pass rush is indeed fearsome, finishing the 2012 season tied for the league lead with 52 sacks during the regular season. The Cardinals' offensive line, meanwhile, has much to prove still. The addition of Eric Winston at right tackle was nice, and Levi Brown can hopefully bounce back at left tackle after spending the 2012 season out with a torn triceps. Unfortunately, the loss of rookie guard Jonathan Cooper to injured reserve with a broken leg is an enormous blow.

More from SB Nation NFL:

Play the No. 1 free fantasy football game

The only 8 things you need to know about the NFL season

NFL Power Rankings: Road to Super Bowl goes through NFC West

It's official: E.J. Manuel named Bills' starter

What rookies will have the biggest impact?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.