Arizona Cardinals (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. New York Giants (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date and Time: Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 1:00pm EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AZ +1/NYG -1
Over/Under Total: 44
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On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals make the long trip to East Rutherford to face the New York Giants. Arizona rallied back on Monday Night Football to nip the Chargers at the wire, 18-17. For the Giants, the picture is less rosy, following a week one 35-14 flogging at the hands of Detroit on MNF, where some of the preseason concerns about the Giants manifested in living color.
Its good to remind ourselves to not place too much credence into week one games. If there is ever a risk of attaching too much importance to one game, its when bettors in week two consider week one games. Its our only real roadmap, but its still just one game. Even so, the Giants look lousy. They cant run the ball worth a lick. Victor Cruz is their top receiver and some of the luster is off him from a few years ago. The offensive line plain stinks, with tackles Will Beatty and Justin Pugh not really getting it done. Theyre not much better inside with a young Weston Richburg (who should come around) and John Jerry. Center JD Walton is coming off injuries. They could come around, but on Monday, they were awful.
Naturally, Manning catches most of the flack. While the former Super Bowl champ doesnt seem very sharp in recent outings going back to last year, it would be hard for any QB to thrive in these conditions. Under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, the Giants havent been able to take flight. Its just not clicking. Time will tell, but this offense might struggle more often than not. Equally discouraging is how the revamped secondary seemed unable to curb the Detroit aerial attack on Monday. On paper, getting Stevie Brown back at safety, while adding Antrel Rolle, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Walter Thurmond was supposed to make this area a team strength, but there was little evidence of that on Monday, as Matthew Stafford and Company pretty much had their way.
If not for the Cardinals big comeback on MNF, wed be saying some of the same things about them, but it all worked out in the end. Arizona took a 6-3 halftime lead into the locker room, only to see San Diego open the second half with two touchdowns. But a pair of Arizona 4th quarter TD drives allowed Arizona to win their home opener.
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Its been beaten into our heads in recent years that Carson Palmer is not up-to-snuff. And he certainly did struggle for a few years, but maybe we need to re-calibrate our perceptions of him. Going back to last season, the Cardinals have won 8 of 10 games, with Palmer a key part of that equation. Watching him lead Arizona on a pair of late TD drives reinforced his reversal of form. In the second half, he began connecting with improving WR Michael Floyd and got Larry Fitzgerald involved after a quiet three quarters. If he can get a running game established with Andre Ellington and Jonathan Dwyer, that would really help.
Its still very early, but Monday was promising for the Cardinals defensively, especially up-front. The loss of Darnell Dockett to injury and Daryl Washington to suspension loomed over this D as 2014 approached, but they held 1200-yard rusher Ryan Mathews and San Diego backs to a paltry 52 yards on 24 catches. First signs are that their depth might allow them to absorb those personnel losses. And the dynamic Arizona secondary forced an off-key performance from Philip Rivers. Holding a good San Diego offense to 17 points shows this D could still get it done.
It looks like it will take some people more time than others to come around on Arizona. In a division ruled by San Francisco and Seattle, maybe the Cardinals get drowned out a bit. But going back to last year, there arent many teams that have been better than the Cardinals. They are better than what they would look to be on paper. Theyre not a headline-friendly team, without any real stars on the team. but they are well-coached and have a lot of pluck. Just the fact that they are small dogs against what appears to be a dysfunctional Giants squad at this point says a lot about how the public views Arizona.
Before the season, the Giants knew what they needed to do to at least start to get back to their prior form. And game one returned almost all bad signs. Manning threw two picks and was not on the same page for most of the game with his weapons in the air. The run-game still seems stuck in the mud, even as they added rookie Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings, who combined for 55 yards on 21 carries. The changes made on defense failed to resonate positively. And the O-line taking a big step forward could still happen, but not based on what we saw Monday.
Both teams are coming off the short week, so thats a wash. From Arizona to Jersey is a heck of a road trip and on a short week. To make matters worse for the Cards, they have to play at 10AM “their time”. Historically, this has been a rough propostion for west coast NFL teams. This game doesn’t offer much betting value, but if forced to make a prediction against the spread, I have to roll with the NYG.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the New York Giants minus the point.