Friday, October 3, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 5: Cardinals Vs. Broncos

Arizona Cardinals Vs. Denver Broncos: DEN -7 (-120) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

With both of these teams on byes in Week 4, there was no change between the look-ahead line and opener of -7.  There was an immediate move to -7.5 and -8 on the opener, and most books have it at -7.5 as of today. We are seeing some changes with the juice though, as you can now buy down to -7 for an extra ten cents.  63% of the bets are on the Broncos, and they were the top consensus pick in the SuperContest this week.


Bottom Line

This is a game that could be argued either way. The Cards are 3-0 and the Broncos are 0-3 ATS, so why the high spread?  Nobody seems to respect Arizona, but this line has inflation written all over it.

That said, things begin to look different when you look at the specific matchup. Far too often touts just apply their power ratings and take the team with the perceived value. There's some merit in that approach, but I prefer to give more weight to how teams matchup head-to-head in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

The Cardinals have lost a ton of talent on D, but due to an aggressive scheme the players on the field have been able to make it work. The problem for them is their A-gap blitzing tendencies won't get the job done against a guy like Peyton Manning. In fact, teams don't usually employ that approach because Peyton can recognize what's coming at the line and simply move the ball to a hot read or complete an easy first down with a simple pass to one of his many weapons. Arizona's defense is also designed to shut down the run, something the Broncos don't rely on all that much.

Yet, the bigger problem for Arizona is a guy named Drew Stanton. He hasn't thrown an interception or fumbled the ball away yet, but he also hasn't had to win a game on his own either. If they get down a couple scores like I expect them to, I'm willing to bet the turnovers will come. The Broncos D is better than they were last year, which is especially bad news for bad offenses.

Arizona is a quality team, but it's asking a lot for them to go on the road and stay within a touchdown of the best team in the AFC. And if laying a TD is too much for your liking, they are a great teaser option this week.

NFL Pick: DEN -7.

Read more: Week 5 picks