Arizona @ Baltimore
Recommendation: BAL -13.5
Cover Probability: 58.14%
Cover Edge: 10.99%
-RT Marcus Gilbert (torn ACL) is on IR.
-CB Patrick Peterson (suspension) is OUT weeks 1 – 6.
-CB Robert Alford (leg) has been placed on IR.
-CB Jimmy Smith (knee) was injured week 1. It is not believed to be serious.
-CB Tavon Young (neck) is on IR.
When Arizona has the ball:
The Cardinals have to be the most interesting shitty team in NFL history. They drafted Kyler Murray first overall and let Josh Rosen walk, their 10th overall pick from just the previous season, and brought in Cliff Kingsbury to be their next coach. Kingsbury implemented an “Air Raid” offense, which uses spread formations almost exclusively to open natural seams in a defense, then throws the ball to said seams for easy completions. We saw that in week 1 as the Cardinals used “10” personnel (1 RB/4 WRs) on over 70% of plays week 1, easily the most in the NFL. Selecting Murray actually made a ton of sense — Kinsbury’s man crush aside, Kyler played in a very similar style offense in college. It’s a different concept than most offenses deploy, and it should be interesting to see how things work going forward.
The problem with the Cardinals is their players are.. well, bad. In particular, their offensive line was a massive issue last year. By December, all 5 of the Cardinals preseason starters were either on IR or released out right. What’s worse is they did virtually nothing to help things out this year except for bring in the always-injured Marcus Gilbert, who is now on IR. A bad offensive line is particularly boring for a QB who can run like hell, but Kingsbury’s offense stresses getting the ball out quickly, and that’s what Kyler will have to do.
Their weapons aren’t anything too special, either. Larry Fitzgerald is now in his 50th NFL season. Christian Kirk is looking to take a step forward after a tough rookie year that started with injuries. Behind Fitzgerald and Kirk is Michael Crabtree, which.. yeah, not impressive.
The final piece of the Cardinals offense is David Johnson, who many believed wasn’t correctly utilized last year. In 2016 when DJ took the league by the balls, he lined up at wide 20% of the time and ran legit wide-recevier routes. Based on Johnson’s week 1 usage and off-season talk from Kingsbury, it seems like the Cardinals are determined to get the full skill set out of Johnson in 2018. That makes things exciting, even if they are just awful.
On defense, the Ravens finally parted ways with Terrell Suggs, who is entering his 49th NFL season. To help with the pass rush hole left by Suggs, the Ravens brought in Shane Ray and drafted Jaylon Ferguson in the 3rd round. They also brought back Pernell McPhee and get Tim Williams back from injury, so there should at least theoretically speaking be plenty of guys who can get after the QB. Meanwhile, the Ravens coverage players are no joke. They brought in all-world FS Earl Thomas from the Seahawks. Along with Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith at corner, the Ravens coaches have no shortage of talent. They shouldn’t have an issue covering the Cardinals receivers. Against the run, it’s hard not to see a mismatch in favor of the Ravens. It’s not that guys like Brandon Williams, Chris Womley, and Michael Pierce are that impressive.. it’s the fact that the Cardinals offensive line is that bad.
When Baltimore has the ball:
Lamar Jackson enters his first full season as an NFL starter, and he got off to a good start by lighting up the AAF Miami Dolphins last week. And yes, I’m taking a bit away from Jackson because of the matchup, but he clearly hit his receivers in stride and deserves credit for making the throws. We know the guy can run, but last year he was one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in the league last year. Jackson will play behind a fringe top 10 offensive line, but his weapons are a bit of a mystery. His top receivers by playing time are Seth Roberts, Miles Boykin, and Willie Sneak IV. None of those receivers should make you excited — though maybe it’ll open up more playing time for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who racked up 147 yards and 2 TDs last game despite only playing 8 (yes, eight) snaps. The backfield duties will mostly be manned by veteran Mark Ingram.
On defense, the Cardinals have a solid defensive line. They brought in Terrell Suggs (REVENGE GAME) to help Chandler Jones rush the passer. Bringing in Suggs was a necessity as the Cardinals lost Benson Mayowa and Markus Golden to the Raiders and Giants. Along the interior is Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter, and Darius Philon. The problem with Cardinals is everywhere else — their linebacker core gave up a ton of catches over the middle and were God-awful at tackling, and their secondary is lacking horribly with Patrick Peterson suspended.
That’s it for now, bitches.