NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals
Have you ever noticed that it's harder to handicap/predict a game result when you just don't care about the game whatsoever? That's what I'm using as my reasoning for going 0-2 last Thursday in my Eagles-Giants pick because I simply didn't care about that game nor watch much of it other than for fantasy/Survivor/Confidence reasons.
Unfortunately, Eagles-Giants looks like a freaking Super Bowl matchup compared to what has to be one of the worst prime-time games in NFL history: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2-4 Denver Broncos visit your 1-5 Arizona Cardinals this Thursday night. Plenty of good seats available! Thankfully, there's both baseball and the NBA on TNT doubleheader that night because I will not watch one minute of this stinkfest.
I'm trying to think of a story line to make this interesting to readers and don't have much. I definitely think the Broncos should have taken UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen at No. 5 in this year's draft over NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb - no offense to Chubb, who is a fine player. As the New York Giants are learning after taking Saquon Barkley (who is a stud, but still) at No. 2 this year over a quarterback, you simply can't pass up a potential franchise signal-caller. Denver's decision would eventually benefit Arizona as it traded up from No. 15 to No. 10 to take Rosen. He was the only first-round caliber QB on the board after the Bills traded up for Josh Allen at No. 7. I still think Rosen will be the best of the four first-rounders, but we shall see. At least the Cardinals have a plan there now. Denver doesn't.
Broncos at Cardinals Betting Story Lines
OK, I've got another angle here: If the Broncos go to the desert and get punked by the NFC's worst team, I can 100 percent see GM John Elway fire Coach Vance Joseph. It's now all but assumed Joseph won't be back in 2019, but maybe Elway waits until the Week 10 bye. It's not Joseph's fault he was stuck with quarterbacks like Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch in 2017 and Case Keenum this year.
Keenum was a great story a season ago in leading the Vikings to the NFC title game, but that was clearly a one-hit wonder type of thing. He has now been picked off in every game after throwing another in Sunday's home loss to the Rams, Denver's fourth straight defeat overall. Keenum has eight interceptions already after seven last year. The Broncos have two pretty good rookie running backs in Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, but Joseph doesn't seem to know how to use them. They totaled 40 yards on 13 carries vs. L.A. On the flip side, the Broncos are dead last in rush defense and were gashed for 270 yards rushing by Todd Gurley & Co.
Arizona, meanwhile, astoundingly has yet to even gain 300 yards this season or score a freaking point in the third quarter (only team not to). It was held to 269 yards in Sunday's 27-17 loss in Minnesota and 0-for-10 on third down - the Cardinals rank last in pretty much every offensive category but points; Allen's Bills are slightly worse there. Rosen threw for 240 and a pick vs. the Vikings but at least is learning on the job. I just don't understand how a team with the once-electric David Johnson and future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald can be this bad offensively. Johnson is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and isn't being used much as a receiver. Remember how good this guy was in 2016?
Fitzgerald has 22 catches for 215 yards and no scores - he probably should have retired after 2017 when Carson Palmer did. If the Cardinals want to do Fitz some justice, they will trade him to a contender. Reportedly, the team is open to dealing just about anyone other than Johnson or Rosen right now. They have a few defensive players - like cornerback Patrick Peterson - who could bring back value.
Broncos at Cardinals Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Denver is a 2.5-point favorite (-115) with a total of 40.5. On the moneyline, the Broncos are -140 and Cardinals +120. On the alternate line, the Broncos are -3 (+110). Denver is 1-4-1 against the spread (0-2 on road) and 2-4 "over/under" (1-1 on road). Arizona is 3-2-1 ATS (2-1 at home) and 2-4 O/U (0-3 at home).
The Broncos are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a losing record. They are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 after a loss. The Cardinals are 3-0-1 ATS in their past four vs. teams with losing records. They are 6-2 ATS in their previous eight after a loss. The under is 9-2 in Denver's past 11 vs. teams below .500. It's 7-3 in Arizona's past 10 overall.
Broncos at Cardinals Betting Prediction
This is a case where I'll lean the home team when it's all but evenly matched against an opponent on a short week. Take the 3-point alternate line on the Cards. That's a low total, but I'm going under because I don't trust either quarterback and expect a couple of red-zone turnovers. You know, if the offenses get to the red zone. I'll read about what happened on Friday morning.
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