I think it’s safe to say that the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints have both had a rather disappointing season. Both of these teams stand with two wins and four losses, and more was expected of them.
On Thursday night, BetOnline customers will have the opportunity to watch these squads face off against each other at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, in the weekly game that is televised by Amazon Prime Video, beginning at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Saints have been playing without Jameis Winston, the former Heisman Trophy winner who came over from Tampa Bay to, in effect, serve an apprenticeship under Drew Brees. He inherited the job and has been dealing with injuries ever since. This time, it’s a back issue, along with a sprained ankle. And he will likely be kept out of the game in favor of Andy Dalton, the backup who has been serving as a starter for the past three games.
Dalton, who started his career playoff appearances in Cincinnati but has shuffled around the league since, has been a decent field general for them, completing 63% of his passes. The pleasant surprises are that he’s been intercepted only once and sacked only four times. Dalton, who is rather stationary in the pocket, is not known as a guy who can avoid dangerous pass rushes. So these things are a good sign.
In the Thursday night NFL betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Cardinals are favored at home:
Arizona Cardinals -2.5 (-108)
New Orleans Saints + 2.5 (-112)
Over 44 Points – 110
Under 44 Points – 110
One of the things the Cardinals really have to get over in this game is their awful starts. Last week they scored their first points of the season in the first quarter. Thus far, they have been outscored 41-3 in the opening period. In the process of negotiating a lucrative contract extension in the offseason, Murray was made to agree to a clause that required him to do more “film study.” For the team to have to include this is, yes, kind of insulting, but it also tells us a lot about the nature of Murray’s preparation.
The former Heisman winner out of Oklahoma it’s certainly one of the more nimble NFL quarterbacks, and his improvisational abilities are admirable. But when defenses start figuring you out, you have to devise different action plans. Has Murray done that? Right now is, a 5.8-yard per attempt average is the worst among all NFL starting quarterbacks. And the Cardinals have gained just 5.3 yards per offensive play, ranking 32nd in the NFL.
Talking about the offensive approach of the Saints, you can count on them trying to establish the ground game. They have run the ball 54% of the time the last three weeks, which coincides with Dalton’s so-called “managerial” approach to quarterbacking, which is just fine with head coach Dennis Allen.
New Orleans is ranked second in the NFL metric of adjusted line yards, which is a measurement of the offensive line’s ability to create power plays, avoid stuffed runs, and deal on the second level beyond the line of scrimmage. You don’t have to translate all that; you just have to know that they can run the ball and do it with some effectiveness.
They also have the additional angle of being able to use the guy who is called the “Swiss army knife,” Taysom Hill, who can play at a number of different positions. They utilized him well a couple of weeks ago against the Seattle Seahawks, and we wonder why they don’t put him under center more often. He is currently averaging 10.3 yards per carry in the place he’s running out of the backfield. He is certainly a guy Arizona needs to prepare for.
When looking at this game, in the final analysis, you have to consider that the Cardinals don’t really have a home-field advantage. In fact, they have lost EIGHT straight games in their own home stadium. We think that New Orleans will be the better team on the field, and odds are in their favor at some of the best NFL betting sites, so if there’s a team that is achieving more at the moment, it’s the guys in black and gold. So we’ll be taking the points.
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