Cards just need love

Jul 31, 2007 2:57 AM

EDITORS NOTE: This is the fourth part of an eight-week NFL teaser of pertinent news and notes. GamingToday’s in-depth NFL preview edition featuring writers Andy Iskoe, Jim Feist, Richard Saber, Denny The Dog and a cast of thousands will be published on Sept. 4, two days prior to the start of the regular season.

This week: NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

It’s hard to be a Cardinals fan. Truly.

The only time they ever sellout home games it seems is when they play Chicago, Green Bay, Dallas or Pittsburgh, each with a huge and loyal fan base that will travel.

The frustrating part is Arizona has an exciting team, espeically on offense. QB Matt Leinart and those fabulous wideouts Anquan Bolden and Larry Fitzgerald should put up a ton of points. In fact, the over was a handsome 11-5 last year. Except that the start was abysmal — 1-8 SU and 2-7 ATS. After the famed "The Bears are who we thought they were remark" that eventually cost Dennis Green his job, the Cards went on to cover 6-of-7 and enter camp with renewed optimism.

Expect the Cardinals to play with some passion in the third preseason game against San Diego. It’s Game 3, where teams usually play their starters longer than any other exhibition contest. Plus, the new Glendale Stadium will be packed — with Chargers fans.

Cardinals vitals:

Last year: 5-11 SU, 8-8 ATS.

O/U: 11-5 over

Turnover ratio: +3

2006 exhibition (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS):

ARI (-4½) 21-13 v Steelers (35.5)

ARI (+3½) 3-30 at Saints (37)

ARI (+4) 23-16 at Bears (34)

ARI (+3½) 23-29 v Broncos (33.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 11, at Oakland; 18, HOUSTON; 25, SAN DIEGO; 30, at Denver.

St. Louis Rams

At the end of last season, the Rams were probably the best team not to make the playoffs.

St. Louis finished with a three-game win streak, a stellar +14 turnover ratio that included +12 on the road and +11 when listed as an underdog.

QB Marc Bulger just signed a six-year deal that places him right among Manning, Brady and Palmer in value. Now he just has to stay healthy, which has been his one negative all through a very solid career.

Steven Jackson is so good as both as a runner and receiver that he made the great Marshall Faulk expendable.

This is a wideopen division that could see a lot of high scoring shootouts.

Like Arizona expect the Rams to focus on their preseason clash with San Diego, but for a different reason. There is a nice eight-day lead-in off the Minnesota opener, where most of the starters will sit. There are only six days apiece to prepare for Oakland and KC.

Defense was a problem last year, even in exhibition play. The Rams allowed 89 points in four games so check the totals and look to play the OVER.

The Hilton SuperBook had the Rams over / under WIN total for the upcoming season at 7½.

Oh by the way, Oakland and San Diego play all four NFC West teams in preseason.

Rams vitals

Last year: 8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS

O / U: 8-7 over

Turnover ratio: +14

2006 exhibition (1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS): STL (-5½) 19-17 v Colts (39)

STL (-3) 20-27 v Texans (37.5)

STL (+3) 12-16 at Chiefs (38.5)

STL (+3) 9-29 at Dolphins (35.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 10, at Minnesota; 18, SAN DIEGO: 24, at Oakland; 30, KANSAS CITY.

San Francisco 49ers

If you’re looking for the 2007-8 version of the Chicago Bears, the San Francisco 49ers could be your team.

This is the third year with Alex Smith at QB and Frank Gore at RB and both players continue to see their stock rise.

Gore, in particular, is rated in some fantasy drafts as the fourth best RB in the NFL, trailing only LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, and Jackson of the Rams.

The 49ers made great strides last year except in one area — turnover ratio. In that stat, the Niners were a dismal -5, including a -8 on the road.

The big positive was Frisco’s outstanding 5-1 ATS mark within the NFC West.

Facing a very tough preseason schedule that features three legit Super Bowl contenders, expect the Niners to go full bore to against their crosstown rival, the Oakland Raiders.

The Niners lost 23-7 at Oakland last year and should have that game marked off. When it’s the Raiders, this is definitely not an exhibition game.

Denver replaces Dallas on this year’s preseason sked.

49ers vitals:

Last year: 7-9 SU, 9-7 ATS

O/U: 9-6-1 over

Turnover ratio: -5

2006 exhibition (2-2 SU/ATS):

SF (-1½) 28-14 v Bears (34)

SF (+3) 7-23 at Raiders (36.5)

SF (+7) 7-17 at Cowboys (35.5)

SF (-3½) 23-14 v S.Diego (35.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 13, DENVER; 18, OAKLAND; 25, at Chicago; 30, at San Diego.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks nearly made it back-to-back appearances in the Super Bowl, but the numbers show they were fortunate to get that far.

Mike Holmgren’s bunch were just 10-8 SU and 7-10 ATS with a terrible turnover ratio of -8. The TO was even worse at -11 in games Seattle was favored.

Remember, it was that infamous botched snap on the PAT that kept Dallas from taking the Seahawks to OT in the playoffs.

Shaun Alexander was hurt much of last season and thus, his fantasy value, has gone down a bit at RB. How quickly these guys forget that it was Alexander’s single season TD mark that LT broke a year ago.

Alexander was at ringside for the recent Hopkins-Wright fight at Mandalay Bay and he looks and sounds great. Expect a big year.

In preseason, Seattle will most likely play its starters the most against Vikes, the only matchup with a regular 7-day break. The SD opener is mostly for rookies.

Seahawks vitals:

Last year: 10-8, 7-10 ATS

O/U: 10-7 over

Turnover ratio: -8

2006 exhibition (2-2, 2-2 ATS)

SEA (-3) 3-13 v Dallas (36)

SEA (+2½) 30-17 v Ind (34.5)

SEA (-3½) 20-31 at SD (36.5)

SEA (-2½) 30-7 at Oak (36.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug. 12, at San Diego; 18, at Green Bay; 25, MINNESOTA; 30, OAKLAND.

Next week: The AFC East