Arizona Cardinals (4-9) at Denver Broncos (3-10)
The Cardinals lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the season with a torn ACL last week, but they were one of the worst teams in the league even before losing him, now sitting at 4-9 with a -71 point differential and a schedule adjusted efficiency that ranks 28th in the NFL. They were 11-6 a year ago, but I thought they were one of the most overrated teams in the league coming into the season, as they 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. Injuries didn’t help matters, as the Cardinals were already without four starting offensive linemen and top cornerback Byron Jones before losing Murray, which obviously hurts this team even more.
The Broncos are missing their starting quarterback as well, with Russell Wilson missing this week due to a concussion, and they are also in the middle of a disappointing season, sitting at 3-10 with a -44 point differential, despite entering the year as a consensus playoff contender. Their defense is still above average, which makes it the only above average unit in this game and, largely as a result of that, the Broncos have the edge in my roster rankings by a couple points, assuming talented edge defender Randy Gregory returns from injury this week as expected. There isn’t quite enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting, but we’re getting some line value with them as only 1.5-point home favorites.
Denver Broncos 20 Arizona Cardinals 17
Pick against the spread: Denver -1.5