Arizona @ Cincinnati
Recommended bet: ARI +3.5
Cover Probability: 54.54%
Cover Edge: 4.13%
-WR Christian Kirk (ankle/leg) limped off the field on the next to last play in week 4. He will not play week 5.
-RT Marcus Gilbert (torn ACL) is on IR.
-RT Jordan Mills (knee) was injured week 4 and will not play week 5.
-DE Zach Allen (shoulder) was injured week 4 and did not return. He will not play week 5.
-LB Terrell Suggs (back) is QUESTIONABLE week 5. He did not practice Thursday or Friday.
-LB Dennis Gardeck (ankle) was injured week 4. He will not play week 5.
-CB Patrick Peterson (suspension) is OUT weeks 1 – 6.
-CB Robert Alford (leg) has been placed on IR.
-WR AJ Green (ankle) is OUT indefinitely.
-WR John Ross (shoulder) was injured week 4 and is on IR.
-LT Cordy Glenn (concussion) was INACTIVE for weeks 1 – 4. He will not play week 5.
-DE Carl Lawson (hamstring) was INACTIVE weeks 3 and 4. He will return week 5.
-DT Ryan Glasgow (thigh) was INACTIVE weeks 3 and 4. He will return week 5.
-CB Darqueze Dennard (knee) is on PUP to begin the season.
The line opened at 4.5, and was pretty quickly bet down to 3.5 within a few hours on the 1st. That’s where the model grabbed it, but now the consensus sits at 3, though there are two Vegas books that are offering 3.5 lines. 3 is obviously a key spread number, so I hope you either got your bet in when the model was run on Tuesday or you have a square book out there.
When Arizona has the ball:
Kyler Murray’s rookie season hasn’t been off to the most impressive start, averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt, completing 62.7% of his passes, with the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (4 each). The Cardinals run the “Air Raid” offense, which tries to spread things out and find quick, easy completions. When we look at Murray’s time to throw of 2.48 seconds, which is about average, it tells us that either the receivers aren’t getting open quick enough or Murray isn’t finding them. Despite Murray’s insane speed, he hardly ever runs — that’s likely a combination of the style of offense and the fact that the offensive line blows.
The receiving core is a crucial point of the offense, since the Cardinals run 4 WR sets far more than any other offense in the league. They’ve run 159 plays in that formation — no other team has run 30 plays in 4 wide, and only 3 have more than 20 (Rams, Patriots, Seahawks). Unfortunately for the Cardinals, WR Christian Kirk was hurt in the 4th quarter last week and won’t suit up for this one. The beat reporters are speculating that the top 4 wideouts will be Larry Fitzgerald and Pharoh Cooper in the slot, with KeeSean Johnson and Trent Sherfield on the outside. Fitzgerald — who is now in his 30th season in the league — leads the team with 300 yards on 23 receptions (33 targets). KeeSean Johnson sits at 19 targets, Trent Sherfield is at 4, and Pharoh Cooper hasn’t played a snap since week 1 (where he wasn’t targeted). We could also see Andy Isabella, who is a rookie out of UMass. The other option for Murray is the teams running back, David Johnson, who will probably (hopefully?) see more snaps at wide receiver this week. Johnson is a talented back, but the offensive line limits his production. He’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry this season.
None of what I just wrote paints a pretty picture for betting the Cardinals, but the good news is the Bengals defense is straight up awful. They’re sitting at 24th in DVOA overall, including 31st against the pass and 22nd against the run. Their only saving grace is their pass rush, which is lead by Geno Atkins (17 pressures) from the inside and Sam Hubbard (11 pressures) from the outside. Other than that, it’s a lot of suck, shit, and crap. They’ll return DE Carl Lawson and DT Ryan Glaslow, both missed the last two games with injuries, but neither has been productive in their first two games. Among their league leaders in snaps in the box, Nick Vigil has missed 8 tackles this season, Carlos Dunlap has just one sack, and Peston Brown is allowing a 136.8 QB rating in coverage. Meanwhile, nobody in the secondary can cover — Dre Kirkpatrick in particular is allowing a 145 QB rating when targeted.
When the Bengals have the ball:
Andy Dalton, more hilariously known as the “Red Rocket,” is off to a pretty rough start. He’s averaging just 61% completion percentage and just 6.9 (nice) yards per attempt. The Bengals problems on offense are their line — which is somehow just as bad as Arizona’s — and injuries. AJ Green still hasn’t played this year, and they lost WR John Ross last week to a shoulder injury. That leaves slot WR Tyler Boyd as the only capable option, and Dalton will look to Auden Tate, Tyler Eifert, and the running backs (Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard) to pick up the slack. Speaking of the running game, their collectively averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season. Add all that up, and it shouldn’t be a surprised that Football Outsiders ranks the Bengals as the worst offense in the league (ok, technically the Dolphins are last, but I don’t think they qualify as an NFL team, so I don’t include them).
The Cardinals defense isn’t impressive at all either (you’ve likely noticed the pattern of suck on both sides of the ball by both teams), ranking 22nd in DVOA and 23rd in PFF defensive grades. Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs are both playing well in terms of getting to the quarterback — they’re at 18 and 16 pressures each — but Suggs, who is now 53 years old — is a legit questionable with a back injury. That shouldn’t be surprising giving his age. Some other positives — DI Corey Peters has been solid aginst the run, and S Budda Baker is again playing well both against the run and in coverage. Ok, I’m out of positives.
The Cardinals secondary is a major issue — they’re still without Patrick Peterson (suspended) and lost Robert Alford before the season started. Byron Murphy and Tramaine Brock have been getting roasted at corner, and DJ Swearinger has been one of the worst safeties in the league. Perhaps hoping that all Peterson’s are good at cornerback, the Cardinals elevated Kevin Peterson to starter last week. He wasn’t targeted once in 19 coverage snaps, so maybe that’s a viable strategy. In particular, the Cardinals have been torched by every tight end they’ve played this season (TJ Hockenson went 6/131/1 week 1, Mark Andrews went 8/112/1 week 2, Greg Olsen went 6/75/2 week 3, and Will Dissly went 7/57/1 last week).
Keep it within 3, boys.
That’s it for now, bitches.