Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) at Arizona Cardinals (4-10)
The Cardinals were at the top of my overrated teams 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.
Things have been even worse than I expected because of all of the Cardinals injuries. They have had a bunch of players in and out of the lineup all season and right now are without starting quarterback Kyler Murray, backup quarterback Colt McCoy, arguably their three best offensive linemen DJ Humphries, Justin Pugh, and Rodney Hudson, talented tight end Zach Ertz, #3 receiver Rondale Moore, starting interior defender Zach Allen, and top cornerback Byron Murphy. Not surprisingly, their quarterback injuries are their biggest concern, as third string quarterback Trace McSorley will be making his first career start this week, after struggling mightily in limited relief work thus far in his career.
All that being said, I think we are getting some line value with them, as this line has shot up to favor the visiting Buccaneers by 7.5 points. The Buccaneers have their own injury concerns, expected to be without starting left tackle Donovan Smith, top edge defender Shaq Barrett and his replacement Carl Nassib, top cornerback Jamel Dean, top safety Antoine Winfield, and top interior defender Vita Vea and, as a result, my calculated line has them favored by just 6 points here in Arizona. I have no desire to bet on an unproven third string quarterback unless I’m getting significant line value, but I would take the Cardinals for pick ‘em purposes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 Arizona Cardinals 14
Pick against the spread: Arizona +7.5