2018 Arizona Cardinals Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
When will NFL owners learn that their fans love offensive football? Sure, back in the day some of the most popular teams in NFL history were defensive driven: those dynastic Steelers teams, the Purple People Eater Vikings, the 1985 Bears, the 1986 Giants, etc. Nowadays? The NFL is all about offense, and Americans love scoring. That's why I'm skeptical soccer ever truly catches on here, but that's for another day.
I mention this because the Cardinals had a terrific offensive mind (and quite a character) in Coach Bruce Arians. He led Arizona to double-digit wins his first three seasons and the playoffs the last two of those, including the NFC title game following the 2015 season. The past two years, the Cards lost eight games in each and missed out.
Arians had some health problems, so he stepped down after last season. I get that ownership likes to pivot to a different kind of coach often when replacing the previous one. But, that's usually only because the previous coach was fired and fans want something different. That's why I was surprised the Cards didn't stick to the script and hire and offensive guy to replace Arians.
Instead, the team turned to a guy you probably never heard of unless you follow the Panthers: Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. It's his first head-coaching gig, and he had only been a DC for one season, replacing Sean McDermott when he left for the Buffalo top job. An interesting choice because Arizona looks pretty loaded on defense but has a lot of question marks on offense with Carson Palmer retiring. The Cards did give Wilks an experienced offensive coordinator and former head coach in Mike McCoy. He was in charge of Denver's offense in 2017, and that didn't go well with McCoy fired in November. Overall, he has a pretty solid track record.
The Cardinals were 3-5 on the road last season, 4-3-1 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." Arizona travels to four playoff teams from 2017: LA Rams, Minnesota, Kansas City and Atlanta. It looks like perhaps the toughest road slate in the league when you factor in trips to the rising 49ers and Chargers and the usually excellent Packers. I predict a 1-7 road mark -- and that might be generous. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 16 at Rams (-10.5): Arizona off its home opener vs. Washington. Presuming it's Sam Bradford winning the starting QB job for the Cards, he'll face the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall. Arizona lost to LA last year 33-0 in Week 7 in London - the only time the Cards were shut out. Palmer left injured in the second quarter and didn't return. Drew Stanton was awful in his place. He's gone, too, now. Key trend: Cards 0-4 SU & 2-2 ATS as a double-digit road dog in series (last 2004).
Oct. 7 at 49ers (-7): These franchises appear headed in opposite directions. Arizona did sweep last year, winning 20-10 in San Francisco in Week 9 - but Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't around yet. Remember when Arizona's Adrian Peterson was the biggest fantasy pickup for one week in 2017? It came after this game when he rushed a career-high 37 times for 159 yards. He did squat after that, so I hope you traded high on Peterson if you had him before that outburst. Key trend: Cardinals 3-6-1 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Oct. 14 at Vikings (-10.5): The first 1 p.m. ET kickoff of the season for Arizona, which hasn't won at Minnesota since 1977 - dropping nine straight there. They last played in Minneapolis in November 2016, and the Vikings won 30-24. Key trend: Cards 5-5 ATS in past 10 as a double-digit October road dog.
Nov. 11 at Chiefs (-6.5): Arizona out of its bye. Also the first potential cold-weather game for the Cards. Better than fair chance this is the only time all season that Arizona will face a first-year quarterback. The Cards have never won at Kansas City, losing four at Arrowhead Stadium and tying one. Key trend: Cards 5-5 ATS in past 10 after bye (any location).
Nov. 25 at Chargers (-9): Third straight game vs. the AFC West overall for Arizona, which is off a home matchup vs. Oakland. The Bolts lead the all-time series 9-4, but the Cardinals won the last one 18-14 at home in 2014. Key trend: Cards 4-6 ATS in past 10 at AFC West goes.
Dec. 2 at Packers (-11): The one (surely) guaranteed cold-weather game for the Cards. They are 0-9 in Wisconsin since 1949. Last time these teams played was a thrilling Divisional Round game in the desert following the 2015 season, a 26-20 Arizona win. Key trend: Cards 6-4 ATS as at least an 11-point dog anywhere.
Dec. 16 at Falcons (-7.5): Bad news: Arizona has lost eight straight at Atlanta. Good: All were in the old Georgia Dome. The last meeting between the teams was there in November 2016, a 38-19 Falcons rout. Key trend: Cards 3-6-1 ATS in past 10 in Atlanta.
Dec. 30 at Seahawks (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. Interestingly, the Cardinals have won four of their last five games in Seattle. The rest of the league has a combined six wins and 29 losses over that stretch in the Pacific Northwest. Arizona won there 26-24 in Week 17 last year in Arians' final game. Key trend: Cards 6-4 ATS in past 10 in Seattle.
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