Recommended Wager: Arizona (-3.5) over Carolina

Arizona @ Carolina
Recommended Wager: ARI -3.5
Strength: 4.32

Key Injuries:
Arizona Cardinals: (Week 8 bye)
-WR Christian Kirk (groin) was INACTIVE week 3 after not practicing all week. He was limited all week and is QUESTIONABLE.
-WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE after not practicing all week.
-C Mason Cole (hamstring) was injured week 1 and INACTIVE weeks 2 and 3. He returned to practice this week for the first time as limited and is QUESTIONABLE for week 4.
-CB Dre Kirkpatrick (head) is QUESTIONABLE. He showed up on the injury report Thursday as limited and was DNP on Friday.
-S Budda Baker (thumb) was injured week 3. It will require surgery that will cause him to miss at least one game. He is OUT week 4.
-S Chris Banjo (hamstring) was injured week 3 and is OUT week 4 after not practicing all week.
IR: TE Max Williams (ankle), T Marcus Gilbert (opt out), S Jalen Thompson (ankle)

Carolina Panthers: (Week 13 bye)
-G Dennis Daley (ankle) was INACTIVE weeks 1 – 3. He returned to practice this week for the first time this year as limited and is QUESTIONABLE.
-LT Russell Okung (groin) was INACTIVE week 3, but he did practice in full Friday before the game. He is QUESTIONABLE after not practicing Wednesday and being limited Thursday/Friday.
-DT Kawann Short (foot) was INACTIVE weeks 2 and 3. He will return week 4.
-CB Donte Jackson (toe) was injured week 3. He will play week 4.
-CB Eli Apple (ankle) was activated off IR on 10/3 and will play week 4.
IR: RB Christina McCaffrey (ankle — short term)

Line Injuries: The line opened at 3.5 and moved to 4 briefly, but is back down to 3.5. Not a ton of movement here.

Matchup Breakdown:
The 2-1 Cardinals feature an impressive offense, lead by a 2019 1st overall draft pick Kyler Murray. Murray is completing 66.4% of his passes, good for 7 yards per attempt and a PFF grade of 72.7. An effective scrambler, he’s also averaging 7.2 yards per carry on rushes. WR DeAndre Hopkins is attempting to eradicate the stereotype that receivers take a step back when they join a new team, as he’s leading the league in targets (37), receptions (32), yards (356), and PFF grade (89.4). We recommended this bet on Tuesday, and we unfortunately learned Wednesday that Hopkins had at some point suffered an ankle injury. He continued not practicing throughout the week and is questionable, but he has a history of playing without practicing. That, and coupled with the fact that the line hasn’t moved an inch, makes me think we’ll be ok and he’ll probably play regardless. The other top receiving options have been Larry Fitzgerald (15 targets), Chase Edmonds (15), and Christian Kirk (8). Kirk entered the year as the projected number 2 receiver, but he missed last week with an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday. Former UMass standout Anthony Isabella impressed last week with 2 touchdowns, but he still only ran a route on 15 of 39 drop back. The backfield is mostly Kenyan Drake with Edmonds being a change of pace/receiving option, and they have their work cut out for them playing behind a bad offensive line.

The defense has had a tough start to the year. They rely on Chandler Jones to generate pressure, but he’s only had 6 pressures and 1 sack this year. CB Patrick Peterson has long since been a menace to opposing receivers, but QBs have targeted him 12 times this year and have a rating of 108 when doing so. The Cardinals need both players to step their game up if they want to do anything other than play shootout football. Outside of edge rusher Devon Kennard (9 pressure), and interior lineman Corey Peters, the rest of the defense has struggled. The Cardinals will also be without starting safeties Budda Baker and Chris Banjo.

The Cardinals this season moved on from Cam Newton and signed former Saints Teddy Bridgewater to be their starting quarterback. Bridgewater, who embraced the Saints check down/underneath offense, continues to be conservative with an aDOT (average depth of target) of just 7.1, 6th lowest in the league. Bridgewater is completing 74% of those passes and gaining 8.4 yards per attempt. The leaders in targets are DJ Moore (26), Robby Anderson (23), Mike Davis (17), and Curtis Samuel (13). For the most part, DJ Moore will take the intermediate routes, Anderson the deep routes, and Samuel will play out of the slot. Mike Davis stepped in for an injured Christian McCaffrey. He hasn’t been efficient as a runner (3.4 YPA), but his receiving prowess helps ease the pain of losing McCaffrey. Much like the Cardinals, it’s a lot of skilled players being held back by a poor offensive line. If Russell Okung can’t go, that should give Chandler Jones a great opportunity to get back on track. For the Panthers defense, I have nothing nice to say. They are terrible everywhere.

That’s it for now, bitches.

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