Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-2)
A week ago on the early line, the Cardinals were favored by a field goal on the road in this game in Carolina. At that number, I would have liked the Panthers a lot. The Cardinals were at the top of my overrated list coming into the season. They went 11-6 last season, but needed a +12 turnover margin to get to that record, which is not predictive, and they ranked just 14th in overall efficiency, barely above average.
They also got a lot worse this off-season, losing starting wide receiver Christian Kirk, top edge defender Chandler Jones, top off ball linebacker Jordan Hicks, top cornerback Robert Alford, and their most efficient running back Chase Edmonds, with their only major addition being former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who cost the Cardinals their first round pick in a trade and who isn’t a significant upgrade on Christian Kirk. They’ll also be without top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season due to a suspension.
As field goal road favorites on the early line, the Cardinals were clearly overrated a week ago, but we’ve lost a lot of value in the past week, with this line dropping down to even. It’s not necessarily that the Cardinals’ aren’t overrated still, but the Panthers may be as well, after picking up their first win of the season last week against the Saints in a game in which they primarily won because of a return touchdown and a +3 turnover margin, losing the first down rate battle by 8.89% and the yards per play battle by 1.69, which are much more predictive week-to-week than turnovers.
In terms of overall efficiency, which are based on first downs and yards per play, the Panthers rank just 26th on the season, which isn’t too far behind the 22nd ranked Cardinals, but I still have about two points between these two teams in my roster rankings, so we aren’t getting much line value with the Panthers on an even line. I’m still taking the Panthers for pick ‘em purposes, in part because the Cardinals could overlook them with a much tougher game against the Eagles on deck, but there isn’t nearly enough here for the Panthers to be worth betting.
Carolina Panthers 17 Arizona Cardinals 16
Pick against the spread: Carolina PK