Arizona Cardinals (11-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
The Cardinals rank first in the NFL in rate of moving the chains differential, despite having a couple losses. In those 2 losses, they won the first down battle by a combined 20 first downs and only lost because they had a -3 turnover margin in both games. Turnover margins are incredibly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. On average, teams that have a -3 turnover margin in a game have a +0.1 turnover margin the following game. That’s why I don’t really like to use turnover margin as evidence to support an evaluation of a team. Last week’s Thursday Night game against the Vikings was actually the first of the season in which the Cardinals lost the rate of moving chains battle and they did so just barely (77.42% to 78.13%), in a field goal victory. They’ve won that battle in all 12 games they’ve played this season on more than 4 days rest.
The Eagles rank just 21st in rate of moving the chains differential, so I think we’re getting some line value with the Cardinals. However, I’m not confident in the Cardinals for three reasons. For one, close to 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer. Despite that, the public is all over the Cardinals and I typically like to avoid taking heavily publicly backed sides, as the public always loses money in the long run, which is the second reason. The 3rd is that the Eagles host the Redskins next week, a game in which they’ll be favored, so they won’t have any distractions. Teams are 92-65 ATS since 2012 as road favorites before being favored again, if their opponent will be underdogs again the following week. All other road favorites are 71-95 ATS over that time period. Because the Eagles will be favored next week, the Cardinals fall into the 2nd category. Still, I like the Cardinals, who are already 4-2 ATS as road favorites this year, to continue their dominant season and win big here.
Arizona Cardinals 24 Philadelphia Eagles 17
Pick against the spread: Arizona -4.5