Arizona Cardinals (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-5 SU, 3-2 ATS)
NFL Week 7
Date and Time: Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 4:25pm EST
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARIZ -3/OAK +3
Over/Under Total: 44
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On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals make the trip up north to the Bay Area to face the Oakland Raiders. Arizona is 4-1 and coming off a 30-20 win over the Redskins on Sunday that came after a bye week. Oakland, meanwhile, is languishing at 0-5, but showed they still have some fight in them after a 31-28 loss to San Diego on Sunday. It was their first game since the firing of Dennis Allen, with interim head coach Tony Sparano looking to get this squad on the right track.
Oakland wasnt bad against San Diego, with only a late TD spoiling a Raiders win. Derek Carr threw for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns, which was a great sign. Darren McFadden perked up with 80 yards on the ground.WR Andre Holmes showed his upside with 2 TD catches and 121 yards. So while there is only so much you can say about being 0-5, there are some positive signs and they showed last week that you cant just show up on auto-pilot and expect to beat the Raiders, especially in Oakland.
The Cardinals are still under the radar for a team that has won 11 of its last 14 games. They opened the season with wins over San Diego, New York, and San Francisco. They did absorb a beating in Denver, before returning last week after the bye to beat Washington, 30-20. After being out of action since week one, Carson Palmer returned with a competent performance–with 2 TD passes and 250 yards in the air. The Cardinals are now ready to keep the ball rolling against the Raiders.
Hats off to Arizona for making it work without Palmer for 3 games, going 2-1. Drew Stanton filled in admirably, but with Palmer back, the offense has more options. The run-game could use a jump-start, even though Andre Ellington is productive in spots, both on the ground and through the air. The Cardinals feature a nice crew of ball-catchers, with blossoming Michael Floyd, veteran Larry Fitzgerald, and interesting X-factor rookie John Brown. Team-wide, there are a lot of weapons, with Ted Ginn, Jr. on returns, and a slew of other players who spring up from time to time with a huge play.
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A major problem with Oakland exists in the run game–both in creating it and stopping it, where they are 31st in both areas. It helps that Arizonas ground-game isnt particularly strong, but they have been robust against the run this season, which will put a lot of the pressure on the young shoulders of Derek Carr to produce this week. The Cardinals are dead-last in the league against the pass, allowing 309 yards per game so far–an alarming stat, despite a 4-1 record.
The Raiders match up decently with the Cards in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Theyre weak against the run, which is not the Cardinals forte. But they have been offering stiff resistance in the secondary and should really test Palmer and his playmakers. And with David Carr looking like he perhaps kicked it up a gear or two last week, he should be able to get some business done against Arizonas shoddy secondary. After all, this is an Arizona team that has seen an unceasing string of devastating injuries and suspensions on the defensive side of the ball. They have held up well so far, but the further we get into the season, some of these key personnel losses could start to register more graphically.
Arizona is a hard team to internalize as a truly good team. When you think of the Cardinals, no players really come to mind as superstars. Carson Palmer is sort of a retread in most peoples minds. Their run-game is mediocre at best. And Fitzgerald isnt what he used to be and Michael Floyd is not a name that gets peoples blood pumping. Their defense doesnt seem that tough with all the losses and even coach Bruce Arians is a somewhat anonymous name when it comes to NFL head coaches. But this is a squad that is better than it looks on paper. Theyre supremely well-coached and enjoy a great team chemistry. Again, theyre 11-3 in their last 14 and you almost never hear people talk about them when the topic of good NFL teams comes up in a conversation. Again, this is all about winning and while the Cardinals might not stack up on paper in most areas among the NFL elite, their W-L record does hold up and thats really all that counts.
Opposing teams should expect a stiff challenge coming into Oakland this season. The Raiders are going to win a game at some point and theyre really not all that bad. Despite being 0-5, theyve been fairly productive in a betting sense, covering 3 of 5 spreads. Its just hard to argue with the way the Cardinals have been manufacturing one win after the next and I look for more of that on Sunday.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Arizona Cardinals minus 3 points.