2017 Arizona Cardinals Home Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
I love Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. Think he's a Top 5 coach in the league, plus wildly entertaining because he says and does what he wants. Still can't believe the Chicago Bears hired Marc Trestman over him a few years back.
There's simply no player quite like Cardinals running back David Johnson - not even Le'Veon Bell. I'm sure Johnson is going No.1 in all your fantasy leagues, and he expects to join the 1,000/1,000 club this season as in rushing and receiving yards. The only guys to do that in a single season are Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (1,381 rushing and 1,048 receiving) in 1999 and Roger Craig (1,050 rushing and 1,016 receiving) in 1985. If Johnson stays healthy and gets the 30 touches per game that Arians wants, he absolutely can do it. DJ also could break teammate and backup Chris Johnson's single-season record of 2,509 yards from scrimmage set in 2009 while with Tennessee.The Cardinals have two guys in the secondary in cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety/hybrid Tyrann Mathieu whom any team would want.
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There's not much else I love about these Cardinals. Quarterback Carson Palmer is on the way down, and this could be it for the former No. 1 overall pick and Heisman winner as he'll be 38 in December. Arizona doesn't have Palmer's long-term replacement on the roster, though. Kirk Cousins in 2018? The Cards could battle the 49ers for his services. It's also likely the final season for future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald as he keeps bringing up retirement and has said he will when Palmer does.
In the offseason, the big free-agent signings were kicker Phil Dawson, linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Antoine Bethea, all of whom will start. Dawson might be the most important guy of the three only because former kicker Chandler Catanzaro lost a few games by himself in 2016. He was just 21-for-28 on field goals, missing potential winners vs. New England and Seattle, and also missed four extra points. The Cardinals elected not to tender Catanzaro after the season, making him a free agent. Special teams overall were a major problem in 2016.
In the draft, Arizona took Temple linebacker Haason Reddick with its first-round pick and Washington safety Buddy Baker in Round 2. Reddick has looked great and will start on the inside from Day 1, and Baker is currently listed as Mathieu's backup at free safety. The Cards will look basically the same offensively as they didn't add any major free agents there. They do have high hopes eventually for third-round receiver Chad Williams from Grambling, but he's dealing with a shin injury and Arians doesn't expect Williams to have a role on offense early in the season.
Long story short, this team will win a few games it shouldn't and lose a few it shouldn't - and likely finish around .500 again. Arizona was 4-3-1 at home last season, 3-5 against the spread and 2-6 "over/under." The Cardinals host three playoff teams in 2017: Dallas, Seattle and NY Giants. The home slate is tougher than away. Overall, Arizona has the 10 th-easiest schedule in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2016 winning percentage of .467. BetOnline lists the Cardinals' win total at 8.5. I projected a 2-6 road record and will go 5-3 at home so go under that total. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 25 vs. Cowboys ( +2): Monday night. Cardinals could be 0-2 after visiting Detroit and Indianapolis (they might win at the Colts if Andrew Luck is out). Dallas makes its first trip to Arizona since 2011. The Cardinals have a four-game winning streak in the series, including two overtime games. The Cards catch a break in not facing Ezekiel Elliott barring his suspension being dramatically reduced or overturned. Key NFL betting trend: Cardinals 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
Oct. 1 vs. 49ers (-9): Short week but also the least talented roster in the NFC so no excuse to lose this one. Arizona swept San Francisco last year, winning 23-20 in the desert in Week 10. Catanzaro kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired, his highlight of the season. Palmer threw for 376 yards and a TD but had two picks and a lost fumble. Fitzgerald caught 12 passes for 132 yards. Key betting trend: Cardinals 4-2 all-time in series as at least a 7-point favorite.
Oct. 15 vs. Bucs (-3): Cardinals off a 1 p.m. ET start the previous Sunday in Philly. The best game Arizona played last year was likely Week 2, a 40-7 home blowout of the Bucs. Palmer threw for 304 yards and three scores and the Cardinals picked off Jameis Winston four times, leading to 17 points. Key betting trend: Cards 7-3 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC South.
Nov. 9 vs. Seahawks (+1.5): Thursday night, with Arizona in San Francisco the previous Sunday.The Cardinals seem to play well in Seattle but haven't beaten the Seahawks in Glendale since 2012. The two teams played probably the most interesting 6-6 tie in NFL history (maybe the only one) there a season ago. Catanzaro had a 24-yarder to win clank off the left upright and also one kick blocked. Key betting trend: Cards 4-4 ATS as home dog in series.
Nov. 26 vs. Jaguars (-6.5): Arizona is off a Week 11 trip to Houston. If the Cardinals have a shot at the playoffs, they must sweep a three-game homestand that begins here and it's very doable. One of the Cardinals' best defensive players, Calais Campbell, signed with the Jaguars this offseason after spending his first nine NFL seasons with Arizona. Key betting trend: Cards 4-6 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 6.5 points in December.
Dec. 3 vs. Rams (-8.5): The Cardinals won't miss Jeff Fisher as the Rams won their past two in the desert under their former coach. It was 17-13 in Week 4 last year. Palmer left in the fourth in the concussion protocol. Backup Drew Stanton was intercepted twice in the final minutes, including on a Hail Mary on the final play.Arizona outgained the Rams 420-288 but committed five turnovers to the Rams' one. Key betting trend: Cards 4-2 ATS as at least a 7-point home favorite in series.
Dec. 10 vs. Titans (-3): Matchup of former Pac-12 Heisman winners in Palmer vs. Mariota. It's the Titans' first-ever game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Key betting trend: Cards 3-3 ATS at home vs. AFC South.
Dec. 24 vs. Giants (-2): The Cardinals are at the Redskins the previous Sunday. The road team has won the past four in this series. The Giants love University of Phoenix Stadium as it's also where they upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, the first Super Bowl played in the stadium. Key betting trend: Cards 5-0 SU & ATS in past five at home vs. NFC East.
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