Arizona Cardinals (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, NFL Week 8, Sunday, October 30, 2011, MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland, TV: Fox
by Scotty L, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AZ +13/Bal -13
Over/Under Total: 44
The Arizona Cardinals travel northeast on Sunday afternoon to take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals won their week one game, only to since drop 5 straight. The Ravens are coming off a horrible 12-7 loss at Jacksonville–a game where they were double-digit favorites. Still, they are 4-2 and look to recover on Sunday in an imminently winnable game.
More was expected from the Ravens on Monday night, especially in light of recent performances. In beating the Jets and Texans by a combined 32 points, the Ravens looked ready to take their place among the AFC elite. Then again, a road loss at Jacksonville is not quite cause for alarm. It does indicate, however, that this team is capable of highly divergent levels of play from week to week. Who isnt?
Those problems pale in comparison to the issues facing Arizona, in the midst of a disheartening 5 game losing streak. The first 3 losses of this current streak were close and therefore somewhat forgivable–a one-point loss at Washington, a 3-point loss at Seattle, and a 4-point loss against the Giants. Their last two games, however, have seen Arizona in poor form, with a 24-point loss to 1-6 Minnesota and a 12-point home loss at home against the Steelers on Sunday. The Cardinals havent covered since September 18.
For the past few years, the Cardinals have been commendably scratching and clawing to keep their heads above water. A well-coached group, they have been able to get the most of this team–until recently. Their effort to avoid becoming a NFC punching bag has fallen flat over the past month or so. A prideful team, one should hesitate before relegating this team to the scrap heap, however. Whenever it seems timely to stick a fork in this team, they come roaring back, forcing us to do a re-appraisal.
Arizona will be hard-tested on Sunday, against what figures to be a highly irritated Baltimore team. Coach John Harbaugh and Company realize another loss on Sunday will send them to 4-3 and strip them of the positive momentum they worked so hard to establish in the early-season. Its just difficult to imagine the Baltimore playmakers having another collectively awful day as they did on Monday. QB Joe Flacco (21-38-137-1-1) was off-key, as was RB Ray Rice, with only 28 yards on 8 carries.
In giving up only 12 points to Jacksonville, the Baltimore defense held up their end of the bargain, as they continue to impress. This unit is top-ranked in the league in total yardage and points allowed. Thats nothing new. The Ravens have been long-renowned for stout D, but the early-season suggested a renaissance on the other side of the ball. While the offense has improved, it sometimes lacks consistency, as shown on Monday night.
The Cardinals now have to deal with a knee injury to RB Beanie Wells, who has been responsible for about half of the Cardinals touchdowns this season. QB Kevin Kolb, not exactly flying high at the moment, will surely miss Wells. Kolb has been OK at times, but they figure to lack balance until they re-develop a credible running threat in Wells absence.
Still, theres reason to hold out hope with Kolb. Everyone expected him to come flying out the gate as if he were already an established force. The young man has really only had a small handful of NFL starts. If and when he gets his act together, he has a potentially explosive pass catching crew upon which to rely.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Its hard to lay 13 points on a team like Baltimore, which is really more of a defensive type of squad. Then again, their 11-4 mark in their last 15 games as double-digit home favorites suggests they come through in these situations more often than not. And in those 15 games, one can figure there werent very many times they were more aggravated than they will be going into this game. Look for Baltimore to get back in the win column with a thorough beating of the Cardinals. Take the Baltimore Ravens minus 13 points.
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