NFL Picks Week Five: Carolina Panthers At Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona

Sunday, October 6, 2013, 4:05 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Carolina -2
Current Line: Carolina -2 1/2
Opening Total: 42
Current Total: 42 1/2
Opening Money Line: Panthers -120 / Cardinals +100
Current Money Line: Panthers -130 / Cardinals +110

Carolina is a slight favorite on the road at Arizona Sunday.
Carolina is a slight favorite on the road at Arizona Sunday.

The 1-2 Carolina Panthers travel to the 2-2 Arizona Cardinals Sunday. The Panthers are coming off a bye and are actually in second place in the NFC South behind the 4-0 New Orleans Saints. The Cardinals are tied for second in the NFC West at 2-2 with the San Francisco 49ers, but both teams are behind the 4-0 Seattle Seahawks.

Since 2001, Carolina leads the series 7-4 against Arizona. The Cardinals won the last meeting 28-21 in Glendale on opening day of the 2011 season. That game was notable because it was the debut for Carolina’s then rookie quarterback Cam Newton in the same building where he led the Auburn Tigers to the BCS National Championship several months earlier.

Carolina is coached by Ron Rivera. The Panthers are 6 points away from being undefeated. The led the Seahawks Charlotte in the fourth quarter but ended up losing 12-7. The next week, Carolina traveled to the Buffalo Bills and lost on a last second touchdown pass 24-23. The Panthers mauled the New York Giants at home 38-0 in week 3 and went on their bye week after that. Carolina is 2-1 ATS and the total is 1-2 this season. The Panthers were one point underdogs at home against the Giants and the total was 46.5.

Carolina is outscoring teams 23-12 this season. The Panthers are #3 in the league in points allowed. Carolina is averaging 321 total yards per game on offense including 170 passing and 151 rushing yards. The Panthers are last in the NFL in passing but #3 in rushing. On defense, Carolina is allowing 318.7 yards per game including 225.7 passing and 93 rushing yards. The Panthers are 12th or better in all three categories. Carolina is +1 in turnovers. The Panthers are 21/43 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 15/40. Carolina has forced 10 sacks and allowed 8 this season. The Panthers are averaging 33:24 minutes on time of possession. Carolina is averaging 36 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 66.

Newton  has completed 59.1% of his passes for 577 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 16 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown. He has been sacked 8 times this season. Running back DeAngelo Williams has 62 carries for 291 yards, along with 4 catches. Mike Tolbert has 19 carries, 53 yards and a touchdown, along with 3 catches. Rookie running back Kenjon Barner is expected to make his season debut after missing the first 3 games with an ankle injury. Running back Jonathan Stewart is eligible to come off the PUP list in week 7. Tight end Greg Olsen has 16 catches, 194 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Ted Ginn has 7 catches, 143 yards and 2 touchdowns. Steve Smith has 14 catches, 143 yards and a touchdown. Brandon LaFell has 7 catches, 66 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Panthers are banged up on defense with 9 players listed on the injury report including 5 defensive backs.

Arizona is coached by Bruce Arians in his first year. The Cardinals have alternated wins and losses this season. Arizona lost at the St. Louis Rams 27-24 and at the Saints 31-7. The Cardinals have wins at home over the Detroit Lions 25-21 and last week at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-10. Arizona is 3-1 ATS and the total is 1-3 this season. The Cardinals were 2.5 point underdogs at Tampa Bay and the total was 40.

Arizona is being outscored 22-17 this season. The Cardinals are averaging 320.2 yards per game including 241.5 passing and 78.8 rushing yards. Arizona is 26th in total and scoring offense, and #27 in rushing. On defense, the Cardinals are allowing 341 total yards per game including 266 passing and 75 rushing yards. Arizona is #2 in rush defense. The Cardinals are -1 in turnovers. Arizona is 14/48 on third down conversions and haven’t attempted a fourth down conversion yet. Cardinal opponents are 22/55 on third and fourth down conversions. Arizona has forced 7 sacks and allowed 10 this season. The Cardinals are averaging 28:17 on time of possession. Arizona has one defensive touchdown and has allowed one also. The Cardinals average 54 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 66.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer has completed 57.2% of his passes for 1.010 yards with 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has been sacked 10 times this season. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has 52 carries, 176 yards and a touchdown, along with 7 catches for 57 yards. Andre Ellington has 11 carries for 68 yards, along with 9 catches, 113 yards and a touchdown. Alfonso Smith has 11 carries, 54 yards and a touchdown, plus 2 catches. Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 21 catches, 245 yards and 3 touchdowns. Michael Floyd has 16 catches for 240 yards. Andre Roberts has 13 catches for 145 yards. Arizona is also banged up on defense with 12 players listed on the injury report including 8 linebackers.

Carolina is 7-1 ATS after allowing less than 150 passing yards, 4-1 against NFC teams, and on grass, 6-2 in road games, 5-2 overall, and 1-4 after scoring more than 30 points. The road team is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 in this series.

Arizona is 4-0 ATS after scoring 15 points or less, 5-1 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 4-1 overall, on grass and against NFC teams, 2-5 at home and after a cover, 2-7 after allowing 15 points or less, 1-4 after a straight up win, and after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, and 0-3-1 in October.

This game could come down to Carolina’s league leading rushing attack against Arizona’s #2 rush defense. Both of these teams are inconsistent and so far you don’t know what they will do from week to week. Still, I think Carolina wins a close low scoring game on the road.

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