Miami Dolphins (1-2 SU, 1-1-1 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Sunday, September 30/4 PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
TV: CBS/DirecTV 711
by Vesper Abadon, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia +6.5/ARI -6.5
Over/Under Total: 40
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If I would have asked you before the start of the season who would be this year’s surprise upstart team, would you have guessed the Arizona Cardinals? Me neither, but the fact of the matter is they are one of only three undefeated teams-Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons being the others-and they sure look like the real deal.
Thanks to Ray Horton’s defense the Cardinals have shown they’re a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Last week, they held the usually potent Philadelphia Eagles offense to just six points; what’s more, they caused three turnovers and capitalized on each, including James Sanders returning one of Michael Vick’s two fumbles 93 yards for a touchdown.
All told the Cardinals’ held the Eagles to 292 total yards (99 rushing/193 passing) and racked up four sacks. Not only did they terrorize Vick and company, they made that team look like amateurs. Offensively, Kevin Kolb sprung to life going 17 or 24 for 222 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went to Larry Fitzgerald, who had nine catches for 114 yards. As you can see, the defense provided opportunities and the offense took advantage-an effective and dangerous combination.
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The San Francisco 49ers seemed like the clear-cut favorite to win the NFC West this year, but that’s not the case anymore; after all, they’re 2-1 while the Cardinals lead the division with an undefeated record. There’s little question regarding the ability of the Cardinals’ defense, and if their offense can continue to improve and perform like they did against the Eagles, they may very well find themselves with a division title and a postseason nod.
In regards to the Miami Dolphins, they slowed down a bit from their Week 2 romping of the Oakland Raiders, but they were still competitive in their 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets. Ryan Tannehill was less than stellar, throwing his first-ever pick six, while Reggie Bush left the game with a knee injury. It wasn’t an overly serious affliction, but many believe it’ll cause him to miss the Week 4 game against the Cardinals. Losing their best player does not bode well for the Fins, and it’ll put the load on second-year running back Daniel Thomas, who oftentimes has trouble holding onto the ball.
Interestingly, through the first three weeks of the season, the Dolphins’ offense has outperformed the Cardinals’ in every offensive category including Total Yards Per Game (369.3 to 263.3), Passing Yards Per Game (193.7 to 181), and Rush Yards Per Game (175.7 to 82.3). If Bush doesn’t play, the Fins will be hard pressed to perform at that level, which they’ll struggle to do anyway against the Cardinals’ defense. Speaking of, the Cardinals’ defense bests the Fins in every defensive category with the exception of Rush Yards Per Game Allowed. The Dolphins have a decent defense, but the Cardinals certainly have the edge in that department, and while stats show the Dolphins’ offense to be superior, the Cardinals have more experience, momentum and offensive weapons to work with.
Vesper Abadon’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Cardinals have won five of their last six games last year, so it’s a wonder their 3-0 start has come as such a surprise. With no Bush to contend with the Cardinals’ defense will relentlessly harass Tannehill and should have field day with the Dolphins young and mistake-prone offense. The Dolphins are playing hard, but not hard enough to overcome the red-hot Cardinals, who’re flying high and primed to make it nine wins in their last ten games.
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