The Spread and Total
Arizona Cardinals (+4.5, O/U 43.5) at Washington Redskins, courtesy of Bodog.
The Cardinals opened at +4 but the spread has grown since then.
Arizona Cardinals: 6-7 SU (4-8-1 ATS), 3rd NFC West
Washington Redskins: 5-8 SU (5-8 ATS), 3rd NFC East
*takes a deep breath*
Ronald Zamort (knee), out; TJ Logan (wrist), out; David Johnson (wrist), out; Ifeanyi Momah (ankle), out; Mike Iupati (triceps), out; Markus Golden (knee), out; Carson Palmer (arm), out; Tyvon Branch (knee), out; DJ Humphries (knee), out; Jared Veldheer (ankle), out; Drew Stanton (knee), doubtful; John Wetzel (pectorals), uncertain; Alex Boone (pectorals), questionable; Robert Nkemdiche (calf), questionable; Josh Mauro (ankle), questionable; Deone Bucannon (leg), questionable; Patrick Peterson (hamstring), questionable; Adrian Peterson (neck), questionable; Earl Watford (ankle), questionable; Josh Brown (toe), probable
*takes another, deeper breath*
Ty Nsekhe (abdomen), out; Keith Marshall (knee), out; Trent Murphy (knee), out; Su’a Cravens (concussion), out; Phil Taylor (quadriceps), out; SPencer Long (quadriceps), out; Mason Foster (shoulder), out; Dustin Hopkins (hip), out; Arthur Jones (shoulder), out; Rob Kelley (knee), out; Will Compton (foot), out; TJ Clemmings (ankle), out; Terrelle Pryor (ankle), out; Chris Thompson (leg), out; Shawn Lauvao (neck), out; Jordan Reed (hamstring), out; Byron Marshall (hamstring), out; Maurice Harris (concussion), questionable; Brian Quick (concussion), questionable; DJ Swearinger (hamstring), questionable; Jonathan Allen (foot), questionable; Brandon Scherff (knee), questionable; Bashaud Breeland (knee), questionable; Terrell McClain (toe), questionable; Montae Nicholson (concussion), questionable; Morgan Moses (ankle), questionable; Zach Brown (foot), questionable; Josh Norman (knee), questionable; Trent Williams (knee), probable
Dec 4, 2016 (University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix): Arizona 31, Washington 23
Oct 12, 2014 (University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix): Arizona 30, Washington 20
Significant Betting Trends
Both teams are struggling against the spread. Washington is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games, and Arizona is 1-5 ATS in its last six on the road.
Washington has hit the over in seven of its last ten games, while Arizona has stayed under in four of its last five on the road, and eight of 12 overall.
Both teams are third in their division and the sober reality is that their seasons are effectively over; now they’re just “playing out out the string,” as they say. For the 6-7 Cardinals, a win will mean reaching .500 and maybe moving to 4th in the NFC Wild Card race. For the 5-8 Redskins, a win would mean … ?
Both teams are below league average in terms of efficiency, with the Redskins rated 21st in weighted efficiency and the Cardinals sitting 17th.
The only units on the field that perform better than league average are the defenses, with Washington at 12th and Arizona an impressive 5th. Arizona’s defense is also balanced, ranked third against the run and eighth against the pass, while Washington has been able to limit opposing QBs for the most part (11th against the pass) but struggled against the run (20th), which is a weakness the Cardinals will look to exploit.
At least, they would, if they they had anything other than the least-efficient running game in the NFL. Averaging a stout 81.2 yards per game, Arizona is led by a stable of uninspired ball-carriers (Adrian Peterson: 3.5 yards per attempt: Kerwynn Williams: 3.7 YPA; Chris Johnson: 2.5 YPA) and the strongest of those (AP) is injured. The Cardinals’ passing game is a little better. Carson Palmer was doing a respectable job before getting injured, and Blaine Gabbert has been … okay. (Much better than the brief Drew Stanton era, at least.) The ageless Larry Fitzgerald is more or less the bulk of this offense; he has over 900 receiving yards and more touchdowns (5) than the entire Arizona ground game (4).
On the Washington side, Kirk Cousins has accomplished one of the greatest feats in the history of quarterbacking, by giving the team a replacement-level passing offense. Washington is a thoroughly-average 14th, but has struggled a little in the wake of the Chris Thompson injury. The satellite back was the team’s leading receiver when he went down, with 510 receiving yards and four touchdowns through the air.
Altogether this game makes a great case for the under, with two above-average defenses going up against average-at-best (and injured) offenses. The 43.5 total is lower than most, but both teams have limboed under that particular bar more than a few times this year.
Altogether, Arizona might be the slightly better team, particularly on defense, and Larry Fitzgerald will probably be the best player on Washington’s pockmarked field. Taking the points, with a hope that these two defense-first teams wrestle each other to a tight game, seems prudent.
Pick: Arizona (+4.5) and UNDER (43.5)