Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
Time: NOON (CT), FOX
Spread: ATL -4.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Arizona Cardinals are 4-5-1 on the season and find itself in second place, far behind division leading Seattle. This week Arizona travels to face the hot Atlanta Falcons as 4.5 point underdogs according to NFL oddsmakers at 5dimes. The betting total is set high at ’51’ points for the game which will air at Noon (Central) on FOX.
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Since its tie game to Seattle three weeks ago, the Cardinals have dropped two of three, with losses to Carolina and Minnesota and a win over the San Francisco 49ers sandwiched between. The Cardinals have been deceptively better than its record though, ranking No. 11 in passing yardage, No. 12 in rushing yardage and No. 17 in points per game, while maintaining a top-10 defense.
Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer has been fairly decent, but he has thrown 10 INTs with just 13 TDs and that 2.7 percent interception ratio, as well as his 30 sacks, have limited his otherwise effective arm. His passer rating of 83.6 could certainly bear some improvement, and even though Larry Fitzgerald has had a great NFL career, Palmer is one more thing holding him back from being sheerly phenomenal—and to be clear, he has been great already.
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Fitzgerald has 749 receiving yards on 74 catches (targeted 106 times) and five TDs on the season, while also leading the Cardinals in first downs (43). David Johnson, John Brown and Michael Floyd have all caught for 380 yards or more, and Palmer does average 7.2 yards per attempt using his talented stable of receivers. The issue really has been the miscues and lack of OL-protection, limiting an otherwise very good attack in Arizona.
Johnson has been particularly good as a dual-threat, leading the team in rushing with 863 yards and his 510 receiving yards trail only Fitzgerald. The second-year back from Northern Iowa should be a fixture in Arizona for many seasons to come, and he was good last year as a rookie after being a third-round selection in 2015. Between Johnson and Fitzgerald, this team should be far better than its merely decent offensive standing, but Arizona has a lot of work to do in carving itself an effective front five.
Atlanta is 6-4 on the season and lost last week to Philadelphia to snap its two-game win streak (which featured victories over Tampa Bay and Green Bay).
The Falcons have lit it up offensively, leading the league in scoring at 32 points per game while putting up the third-most passing yards and ranking No. 14 with its rush attack.
It has been defense that has been an issue for the Falcons, as it ranks No. 29 in the NFL while surrendering 28.3 points per game.
Matt Ryan is having the best season of his NFL career and has 3,247 passing yards while completing 68.2 percent of his passes and averaging 9.4 yards per attempt. He has 24 TD passes and just five interceptions while keeping a passer rating of 115.1. It hardly hurts that his star receiver Julio Jones has to be considered in the all-time great conversations.
Jones has 1,105 yards on the season and 21 catches for 20-yards or more, while also leading the team in first downs with 47. He is battling a shoulder injury but is expected to play this week.
Running back Devonta Freeman has been good too, with 669 yards and a 4.6 yard per carry average. The Falcons have just six rushing TDs on the season though, with Freeman accounting for two-thirds of that. Atlanta has relied so heavily on its passing game which has accounted for 24 TDs spread between 11 different Falcons players. Mohamed Sanu has three of those and 430 yards on the season.