Sunday Night Football: Cardinals slim home favorites against Seahawks

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The health of quarterback Carson Palmer will largely dictate whether the Arizona Cardinals end their home-field futility against the Seattle Seahawks this week. The Cardinals are a shaky 1.5-point favorite against the Seahawks in the Sunday Night Football matchup.

The Seahawks are 4-1 straight-up and 2-3 against the spread this season, while the Cardinals are 3-3 SU and ATS. As well, the Seahawks are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three visits to University of Phoenix Stadium according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Due to his ailing hamstring, being nimble in the pocket might be a challenge for Palmer, especially if edge rushers such as DEs Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark bring pressure. Seattle offers a good pass defense led by CB Richard Sherman and FS Earl Thomas, but has had occasional communication breakdowns. That could leave some big openings for WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, provided Palmer has time to throw.

Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor (groin) might not play, which would benefit Arizona’s cause immensely. Cardinals RB David Johnson is one of the NFL’s best and likely won’t be contained totally, but the Seahawks’ No. 3-ranked run defense rarely lets a runner break into the open field.

Seattle, led by QB Russell Wilson, is 7-2 SU in its last nine road games. The Seahawks offensive line, which is best described as a work in progress, has their work cut out for them. Arizona has one of the NFL’s stingiest pass defenses, with OLB Chandler Jones and OLB  Markus Golden having combined for 10 of their 19 sacks.

One variable is how the Cardinals will scheme against Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin. Baldwin thrives in the slot, while All-Pro CB  Patrick Peterson plays on the perimeter. Free safety Tyrann Mathieu will have to be sharp for the Cardinals.

Wilson has been productive without much help from the ground game. Seattle, with Christine Michael handling most of the work, averages a meager 3.2 yards per rush, 30th in the NFL. The Cardinals are giving up 4.0 yards per rush, but ILB Kevin Minter is developing into an on-field leader.

The total has gone under on the NFL betting lines in four of the Cardinals’ last five games against NFC West teams. The total has gone over in 10 of the Seahawks’ last 12 road games against the Cardinals.

Marcus Mariota can’t even explain his historic touchdown catch

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A touchdown pass to … yourself?!

That’s exactly what happened to Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s incredible 22-21 Wild Card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 21-3 entering halftime and appeared to be well on their way to advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, but then Mariota made history with one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see:

With the six-yard touchdown, Mariota became the first player in NFL history to record a passing and receiving TD in a playoff game.

NFL Wild Card Weekend betting lines reflect recent favorites trend

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Wild Card Weekend has been ruled by favored teams recently – on the field, if not on the board. Favored teams are 10-2 straight-up in wild card games over the last three seasons. At the sportsbooks – and this seems germane with the home teams each laying at least six points this weekend – favorites are a more modest 7-4-1 against the spread.

The 2017 playoffs saw home teams go 4-0 SU and ATS in wild card games. Eighteen of the last 28 wild card games have gone under the posted total, with one push.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 9-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 44-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Saturday matchup. The Chiefs are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, but QB Alex Smith has had a stronger second half of the season than Marcus Mariota, his Titans counterpart.

Tennessee, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Chiefs, could be compromised offensively if DeMarco Murray (knee) is unable to play and spell off team rushing leader Derrick Henry. The total has gone over in five of the Titans’ last seven games against the Chiefs.

The Los Angeles Rams are 6.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 48.5-point total in the late Saturday matchup. The Rams and first-time playoff QB Jared Goff are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. However, Los Angeles, which lost its regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, whose team is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 night games, will not have his optimal offensive line in front of him as LG Andy Levitre (triceps) is out for the season. The Rams defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, has the third-highest tally of interceptions. The total has gone under in the Falcons’ last five games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are nine-point betting favorites against the Buffalo Bills with a 39.5-point total in a Sunday matchup between teams that had a combined 26-year playoff drought (since 1999 for the Bills; 2007 for the Jags). The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this matchup, but Buffalo will likely only stand a chance if RB LeSean McCoy (ankle sprain) is healthy enough to play; there is no way he will be 100 percent.

The Jaguars, who are only 4-13 SU in their last 17 home games against teams with winning records, must hope QB Blake Bortles has some recent regression out of his system. The total has gone over in the Bills’ last five games against the Jaguars.

And the New Orleans Saints are listed as seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers with a 48-point total in a late Sunday betting matchup. The Panthers and QB Cam Newton are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six tries against the NFC South rival Saints and also boast the NFL’s 28th-ranked passing attack while the Saints are fifth through the air (each team’s pass defense is right in the middle of the rankings).

New Orleans and veteran QB Drew Brees are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against divisional opponents, as well as 5-0 SU in their last five home playoff games. The total has gone over in six of the Panthers’ last seven games against the Saints. The total has also gone over in five of the Saints’ last six games in the wild card round.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.