New Orleans Saints (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS), 4:05 pm EST, NFL Week 5, Sunday, October 10, 2010, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
By Scotty L of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: N.O. 7/Cards+7
Over/Under Total: 45.5
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Defending Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints, will travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. The Saints are coming off a 2-point win over the Panthers, where a late 4th quarter FG gave them the win, but not the cover. In fact, the Saints have failed to cover since their Thursday season-opener against the Vikings. The Cardinals, however, face more serious problems than not covering spreads, as their 41-10 loss to the Chargers seemed to perhaps indicate that they are spiraling down to the NFLs bottom rungs, despite a 2-1 start.
What is it with the Saints this year? It seems like a normal rite of passage for Super Bowl champions to endure a certain hangover period. These September and October games are sometimes hard to get fired up for with teams that still have visions of glory in their heads. At 3-1, its hard to condemn their play, but they do look a bit flat. Listening to Drew Brees talk, youd think they are content to more or less phone it in, get something like an 11-5 record, and then turn it on for the playoffs. At the same time, after watching them grind out come-from-behind wins against the 49ers and Panthers, you can see this team is trying to win and still plays with a lot of inspiration and grit. They just arent scoring points like what were used to seeing. This is more of a problem for bettors backing them than it is for the team, which is still winning games.
Easy scheduling and good coaching allowed the Cardinals machine to chug along well enough for the first few weeks of the season, but certain troubling facts about this team are beginning to materialize. With 3 out of 4 games having been on the road, the Cardinals have managed to go 2-2, but if they were a playoff contender, they wouldnt have gotten blown out in their games with the Falcons and Chargershaving lost those games by a combined 82-17. The week one road win at the Rams looks better given how well St. Louis has played, but they were playing with a rookie QB just trying to find his way, so that first game was a bit of a throwaway.
The Cardinals now have a quarterback controversy, with Derek Anderson pulled in the last game in favor of unproven Max Hall. Coach Whisenhunt is not saying who will start, but when you listen to him, you begin to sense he is grasping the enormity and possible futility on their future prospects this season. The lack of stability underlines the issues on this team. The personnel losses have begun to show. As if it werent enough to lose Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin on offense and Carlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle on defense, the Cardinals are now facing the injury bug. Receivers Early Doucet and Steve Breaston are out. Defenses can now concentrate on Larry Fitzgerald who, as a result, is not nearly as effective.
This is a strange season and its difficult to remember a year where so many teams are relatively undefined. The Cardinals could wind up finding some upside in Hall and parlay it into a productive period. It just seems that maybe now is a good time to get in on the ground level of the Cardinals utter collapse. RB Timothy Hightower is looking decidedly average without that high-flying pass attack to divert defenders from him. This team will have problems moving the ball, unless someone steps up so defenses are not keying in on Fitzgerald and Hightower.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Saints, with their general lack of execution, turnovers, and mental errors have had bettors reaching for the Tums. In this bizarre year, bettors have to time when they think a team is ready to perform well. For some reason, the Saints seem due to show us why they are the defending champions. They have been nipping teams, winning their 3 games by a combined 10 points. Everyone is performing competently, but no one is really stepping out and making a big impression. Drew Brees will have a big game against a beleaguered Arizona secondary that is lacking confidence. Pierre Thomas will batter the Cardinals D-line and have the whole defense guessing.
I think its time for a little breakout performance by the Saints against a Cardinals team that may be settling into a rough patch. Look for a Saints surge in the second half to enable them to get the cover. Take the Saints minus 7 points.