Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (8-4) at Arizona Cardinals (5-7)

The Titans were high on my underrated list to start the season and have been a frequent bet of mine this season as a result. They are exceeding many people’s expectations at 8-4, but I’ve been pretty underwhelmed with them. They needed long, meaningless touchdowns at the end of the game against the Colts and Texans to cover those spreads. If not for those touchdowns, they would just have one cover since week 3 and that cover was a 4-point win as 3-point favorites in Indianapolis two weeks ago.

They’d also have just 1 win by more than a touchdown all season without those two touchdowns, despite the fact that they’ve had a very easy schedule. Their last 6 wins have come against the Colts (x2), the Texans, the Browns, the Ravens, and the Bengals and none of those wins would have come by more than a touchdown without those two meaningless touchdowns. In terms of first down rate differential, they rank just 20th at -0.85%. They also have a -16 point differential on the season and that includes those two meaningless touchdowns.

I’ve had them as a top-10 team talentwise all season, but their coaching staff is underwhelming and seems to be holding them back. On top of that, they are dealing with some injuries to starters right now, something that’s been a rarity for this team over the past couple years. Valuable base package run stuffing defensive end Da’Quan Jones is out for the season, while starting outside linebacker Derrick Morgan will miss this game at the very least.

All of that being said, I am going to be placing a bet on the Titans again this week because we are getting too much line value with Tennessee -2.5. Only about 9% of games are decided by 2 points or fewer, so the Titans basically have to just win straight up here to cover, which they shouldn’t have a ton of trouble doing against the Cardinals, even in Arizona. With Blaine Gabbert under center and all of the other injuries the Cardinals have suffered this season, they are one of the 4 or 5 worst teams in the league. I have this line calculated at -4.5, even as underwhelming as the Titans have been thus far this season. Considering about 20% of games are decided by 3-4 points, that’s a significant amount of line value. The Titans are worth a bet if you can get 2.5.

Tennessee Titans 24 Arizona Cardinals 19

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -2.5

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (8-3) at Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

The Rams are coming off their biggest win of the season, as they snapped the Saints’ 8-game losing streak last week, but they are in a terrible spot this week in Arizona. This seems like an obvious trap game, given that the Rams have to host the NFC leading Eagles next week, a game in which they will definitely be home underdogs (+3 on the early line). Road favorites are just 36-57 ATS since 2008 before being home underdogs and the Rams could easily slip up with a tough game on deck.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend a bet on the Cardinals at +7, as we just aren’t getting that much line value with them. I have this line calculated at Rams -6.5, as the Cardinals are missing a ton of expected starters with injury. The Cardinals pulled off the upset as 5 point home underdogs last week against the Jaguars, but that actually puts them in a bad spot this week, as teams only cover at a 45% rate after a win as home underdogs. It could be tough for the Cardinals to put up that kind of effort two weeks in a row, especially with Adrian Peterson being questionable with a neck injury. I’m taking the Cardinals for pick ‘em purposes, but would need at least 7.5 to consider making a bet on them.

Los Angeles Rams 24 Arizona Cardinals 20

Pick against the spread: Arizona +7

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) at Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

The Jaguars will be without cornerback All-Pro caliber cornerback Jalen Ramsey in this game, the first major injury they’ve dealt with on defense. That would be a huge blow to a lot of teams, but the Jaguars still have arguably the best defense in the league even without him and fellow cornerback AJ Bouye is more than capable of being a #1 cornerback. They don’t have a tough opponent either, as they head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. The Cardinals once had one of the best rosters in the NFL, but they’ve lost so much talent, even just in the last year and now they have arguably the worst roster in the NFL.

Quarterback Carson Palmer, running back David Johnson, left guard Mike Iupati, offensive tackle DJ Humphries, safety Tyvon Branch, and outside linebacker Markus Golden are on injured reserve. Defensive tackle Corey Peters and wide receiver John Brown are out for this game as well. Defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson, safety DJ Swearinger, middle linebacker Kevin Minter, wide receiver Michael Floyd, and cornerback Marcus Cooper left in free agency. Right guard Evan Mathis retired. Middle linebacker Deone Bucannon, offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu are struggling and do not seem 100% back from their off-season injuries.

The Cardinals have made some nice additions like safety Antoine Bethea, cornerback Tramon Williams, defensive back Budda Baker, and running back Adrian Peterson, but that doesn’t come close to replacing what they’ve lost. They also have gotten next to nothing positive from their last 2 first round picks, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and linebacker Haason Reddick. I wish Ramsey was playing, but I still have this line calculated at -6.5, so we’re still getting some line value with the Jaguars, as I don’t think this line truly takes into account how bad the Cardinals are without all of the players they’ve lost due to injury. Last week they lost by double digits to the Texans.

The Cardinals are also in a tough spot because they have to host the Rams next week, a game in which they are 6 point underdogs on the early line. Teams are just 36-67 ATS since 2014 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as big upcoming home games tend to present a major distraction for teams. On top of that, if the Cardinals get down big early, a strong possibility, they could just quit with another tough game on deck. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have a nice, easy home game against the Colts on deck and should play well with no real upcoming distraction. They have a good chance to win by a touchdown or more, so Jacksonville is worth a bet as long as the line is less than 6.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Arizona Cardinals 12

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville -5

Confidence: Medium

Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) at Houston Texans (3-6)

Both of these teams have had their season derailed by injuries to their starting quarterback, as Carson Palmer and Deshaun Watson are out indefinitely with a broken arm and a torn ACL respectively. As a result, these two teams are starting Blaine Gabbert and Tom Savage respectively, two of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. Quarterback isn’t the only place these two teams are banged up though. The Cardinals have lost left tackle DJ Humphries, running back David Johnson, left guard Mike Iupati, outside linebacker Markus Golden, and safety Tyvon Branch for the season with injuries, while the Texans are missing defensive end JJ Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, defensive end Christian Covington, and wide receiver Will Fuller.

With all that these two teams are missing, they are two of the worst teams in the entire NFL. I have them more or less even in my roster rankings, suggesting that the hometown Texans should be favored by about a field goal. Given that, we are getting line value with them as just 1 point home favorites, but it’s not enough for me to bet on Houston confidently. For pick ‘em purposes, the Texans should be the pick, but I would not recommend betting on either of these teams.

Houston Texans 20 Arizona Cardinals 17

Pick against the spread: Houston -1

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (5-3) at Arizona Cardinals (4-4)

The Seahawks lost at home to a banged up Redskins team last week, causing this line to drop from 7 in favor of the Seahawks on the early line last week to 6 this week. That might not seem like a huge line movement, but 7 is a key number because about 9% of games are decided by 7 points exactly, making it the 2nd most common margin of victory, behind 3 (15%). It’s also a bit of an overreaction because the Seahawks won the first down battle in that game 22 and 16 and would have won the game (which they ended up losing by 3) had they not missed 3 makeable field goals. If the Seahawks win last week, even in a close one, I think this line stays put at 7.

The Cardinals won in San Francisco last week, but, with all of their injuries, the 49ers are arguably the least talented team in the league this year, so that wasn’t a terribly impressive win. The Cardinals were able to establish their running game with Adrian Peterson, which allowed them to hide quarterback Drew Stanton, who is filling in for an injured Carson Palmer. That gameplan won’t be as successful this week because the Seahawks have a much better run defense and, if Seattle gets up big early, they won’t be able to keep their play calling as conservative (43 runs to 30 passes against the 49ers). Peterson could also be worn out on a short week, after getting 39 touches last week, most ever by a running back over 30. Peterson is obviously a freak of nature, something he’s proven time and time again, but 60+ touches in 5-day stretch is a lot for any running back, especially one over 30.

Despite their loss last week, the Seahawks are still one of the better teams in the league, especially now that they have an actual left tackle after acquiring Duane Brown from the Texans at the trade deadline. They’re also healthier this week than last with Sheldon Richardson returning from a one-game absence. Earl Thomas remains out, but he won’t be needed as much in this game because of the Cardinals’ quarterback situation. The Cardinals were a below average team even before the Palmer injury and Stanton is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now. He hasn’t completed more than 50% of his passes or had more touchdowns than interceptions in a season since 2013 and he has a career QB rating of 65.9. We’re not getting enough line value with the Seahawks to take them confidently, but they should be the right pick as long as the line is lower than a touchdown.

Also, by request, I’m going to be posting lines I lock in early in the week during my Thursday Night writeups this season, so readers can lock them in before they move. These are not all my picks for the week, just picks where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction (usually underdogs). The rest of the writeups will continue to be posted over the weekend as normal.

NO -2.5 @ BUF (I would NOT take -3)

DAL +3.5 @ ATL (I would also take +3)

LAC +4.5 @ JAX (I would also take +4 and +3.5)

Seattle Seahawks 17 Arizona Cardinals 9

Pick against the spread: Seattle -6

Confidence: Low

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers: 2017 Week 9 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at San Francisco 49ers (0-8)

The 49ers entered the season with among the worst rosters in the NFL and things have just gotten worse from there thanks to injuries. The 49ers are currently without left tackle Joe Staley, #1 wide receiver Pierre Garcon, defensive ends Solomon Thomas, Aaron Lynch, Arik Armstead, and Tank Carradine, and safety Jimmie Ward, all of whom were valuable players for this team. I have the 49ers currently dead last in my roster rankings.

That being said, we are still getting line value with them as 2.5 point home underdogs against the Cardinals because the Cardinals also enter with significant injury problems and one of the worst rosters in the NFL. The Cardinals have lost left guard Mike Iupati, running back David Johnson, outside linebacker Markus Golden, and most importantly quarterback Carson Palmer to injured reserve. Palmer was not playing at an elite level or anything, but he wasn’t playing badly either and backup Drew Stanton is among the worst backups in the league. They shouldn’t be favored by this many points no matter the opponent, given the current state of their roster.

The 49ers have been blown out in each of the past two weeks against the Cowboys and Eagles, losing both games by 21+ points, but they have a great chance to bounce back against a much easier opponent this week. Teams tend to cover off of back-to-back losses by 21+ points, going 45-30 ATS in that spot since 2002. It’s counterintuitive, but it makes sense, as teams coming off back-to-back blowouts tend to be overlooked, underrated, and embarrassed. The 49ers should be some combination of those this week.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are in a terrible spot because they have to turn around and host the Seahawks in one of their toughest games of the season. Favorites are just 60-92 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football and that’s before you even take into account how big of a game it’s going to be for the Cardinals. The early line has them as 7 point home underdogs and teams are 30-70 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs of 6 points or more, as big upcoming home games tend to present a distraction for teams.

On top of that, road favorites like the Cardinals are here are 17-36 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs. With a much tougher game 4 days after this one, the Cardinals could easily look past the 49ers and lose this game as a result. The difference in talent level between these two teams is less than you’d think right now. I’m holding out hope that this line creeps up to 3 before game time, in which case this would become a high confidence pick, but I’d bet the 49ers at 2.5 regardless and I’d also take the money line at +125.

San Francisco 49ers 16 Arizona Cardinals 13 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +2.5

Confidence: Medium

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (3-3) vs. Los Angeles Rams (4-2) in London

The Rams are 4-2, but their 4 wins have come against the Colts, 49ers, Jaguars, and the Cowboys without Sean Lee, so I’m not as sold on them as the general public seems to be. The Cardinals have their own issues, but they ran the ball much better last week in Adrian Peterson’s first game with the team and I only have the Rams about 1.5 points better than them, so we’re getting some line value with the Cardinals at +3 on this neutral field in London. It’s not enough for me to bet them confidently, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Rams 19 Arizona Cardinals 17

Pick against the spread: Arizona +3

Confidence: Low