New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (2-4)

Normally I like home favorites in non-divisional Thursday games because teams tend to be at a disadvantage when they travel on a short week to face a relatively unfamiliar opponent, unless they happen to be the significantly better team. As a result, non-divisional home favorites cover at a 63.2% rate on Thursdays when both teams are on short rest. However, in this game, we are getting significant value with the visiting Saints, which cancels out the trend that works in the Cardinals’ favor.

Both of these teams are 2-4 and have faced comparable competition, but the Saints have been the noticeably better team, having the slight edge in point differential (-17 vs. -28), despite faring significantly worse in the turnover battle, with the Cardinals at +2 and the Saints at -7. Turnovers are not nearly as predictive week-to-week as yards and first downs and, in terms of schedule adjusted overall efficiency, which is based on first downs and yards per play, the Saints are at -1.83, while the Cardinals are nearly three points worse at -4.72. 

The Saints aren’t healthy, missing a pair of starting wide receivers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry, as well as top cornerback Marshon Lattimore, among less important injuries, but the Cardinals are far from healthy either. Top receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns from a 6-game suspension this week, but he re-joins an offense that just lost Marquise Brown, their top receiver in Hopkins absence, as well as a pair of key starting offensive linemen, Justin Pugh and Rodney Hudson. 

With Hudson out and Pugh and Brown going down mid-game, it’s no surprise the Cardinals had by far their worst offensive performance of the season last week against the Seahawks. Hopkins’ return this week will help, but the Saints also have a much tougher defense than the Seahawks. With all of the injuries factored in, my roster rankings have the Saints about three points better than the Cardinals, which is in line with the difference between these two teams in overall efficiency.

The Cardinals should have extra homefield advantage on a short week, but this line favors the Cardinals by 2.5, meaning that their homefield advantage would have to be equal to 5.5 points for this line to be appropriate, given the 3-point gap between these two teams. Even on a short week, that homefield advantage is excessive, so the Saints should be the right side in this one. I would need this line to move to a full field goal for the Saints to be worth betting, but if that happens, they would be bettable even in a bad spot. The money line is a good value as well, as the Saints should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game.

New Orleans Saints 24 Arizona Cardinals 23 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: New Orleans +2.5

Confidence: Low

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