Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns
Time: NOON ET (FOX)
Spread: ARI -6
M/L: ARI -255; CLE +215
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The Arizona Cardinals are 5-2 on the season and are riding the legs of the revitalized Chris Johnson who will attack the NFL’s worst rush defense in the league in the Cleveland Browns. NFL oddsmakers are liking Johnson’s chances of running the table, setting the line 6-points in favor of the visiting Cardinals. The over/under is set at 46 for the game which will air on FOX at Noon (ET).
Johnson at one point was a “gimme” for yardage, racking up six straight seasons of 1,000 yards or more while featured in Tennessee. Last season he managed just 663 yards with the New York Jets. Then, he was shot in March, and he has seemingly bounced back against all odds to become a top back in the NFL once again.
Johnson had 122 yards and a TD in Monday’s 26-18 victory over the Ravens, and he now ranks No. 2 in the NFL in rushing yardage with 567 already this season. He leads all NFL backs at 5.1 yards per attempt, too.
The Cardinals pass offense has Johnson to thank for making its life easier: Arizona ranks No. 6 in passing yardage (281.3) while QB Carson Palmer is tied for the league lead in TD passes (16) and boasts a 108.9 passer rating. At WR, Larry Fitzgerald is finally getting the opportunities to show what a premier option he is. He has 46 catches for 622 yards this season, and fellow receiver John Brown has 37 catches for 562 yards.
The Cardinals will likely have Prow Bowl CB Joe Haden in the fold since he was cleared to practice, but may choose to exercise caution and leave him out of this one. S Tashaun Gipson has been out since Week 4 with a bum ankle, but he was cleared to return to practice.
Cleveland allowed rookie Todd Gurley to beat up all over it, and the Browns have surrendered 151.0 yards per game via the rush. Gurley also had two TDs in the 24-6 loss to the Rams. Cleveland has dropped its last three games and has allowed 24 points or more in six of the last seven contests, while forcing one turnover or less in five of those games. “We have to get more turnovers,” S Donte Whitner said.
Browns QB Josh McCown has thrown for an average of 384.7 yards with six TDs and just one INT in a 3-game stretch before getting just 241.6 yards per game over the last two while turning it over five times in those games. He is battling a shoulder injury but is still expected to start. His backup the vaunted Johnny Manziel is being investigated for misconduct stemming from an incident while driving with his girlfriend on Oct. 12.
The Browns will be without WR Andrew Hawkins who sustained a concussion last week, but will look heavily towards Travis Benjamin (35 catches for 575 yards and four TDs) and TE Gary Barnidge (33 catches for 514 yards and five TDs). Dwayne Bowe may seem some action in the game too. Arizona ranks No. 7 in pass defense and leads the NFL with 14 INTs, three of which have been returned for score. Arizona may be without CB Jerald Powers until after its bye week, though.
The last meeting between the teams in Cleveland occurred on Nov. 16, 2003, when the Browns won 44-6. The Browns have also won the last two games in Phoenix.