There will be serious implications for the top overall pick in next year’s draft when the Arizona Cardinals host the Oakland Raiders in Week 11. Game time is at 4:05 EST on Sunday, November 18, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on CBS.
According to the Week 11 NFL odds, the Cardinals are 4-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 41 points.
For a team that’s 2-7, the Cardinals haven’t been that bad as of late. Both of their two wins have come within their last five games. Of course, both wins came against the 49ers, who are also a two-win team. That being said, the Cardinals were able to hold their own for long stretches against the mighty Chiefs last week. Arizona even entered the 4th quarter only trailing 20-14 before losing 26-14, which was enough to beat the spread.
Of course, there’s no real path to being competitive for the Cardinals this season. They’ve long since made the switch at quarterback to Josh Rosen, who continues to go through the expected struggles of a rookie on a bad team. The best Arizona can hope for is to make stumble their way into two or three more wins and finish with a somewhat respectable record. This week presents a golden opportunity to grab such a win.
If not for an overtime game against the Browns in which they caught quite a few breaks, the Raiders could easily be winless this season. Jon Gruden’s team is 1-8 and currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak. During that streak, the Raiders have scored 10 or fewer points in four of the five games. It’s almost as if things are getting worse with each passing week.
This week’s game against Arizona could be one of Oakland’s last realistic opportunities to win a game. They still have to play the Chiefs twice and the Steelers once while also enduring east coast road trips to both Baltimore and Cincinnati. If the Raiders don’t win this game, odds are they’ll end up 1-15 and owners of the top overall pick in next year’s draft.
I can’t believe I’m swallowing more than a field goal for a 2-7 team, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Arizona may be bad, but the Raiders are a special kind of bad. For evidence, look at their 34-3 loss to the 2-8 49ers a couple weeks ago. If the Raiders couldn’t stay competitive in that game, I feel good that the Cardinals can at least win this game by a touchdown and cover the spread against the Raiders.
Regardless of what the numbers say, Oakland’s offense may be worse than Buffalo’s. At least the Bills have the excuse of having to use third- and fourth-string quarterbacks. The Raiders have no such excuse for scoring more than 20 points just twice this season. If you take away their 42-28 loss to the Colts a few weeks ago, Oakland has managed a total of 22 points in their last four games. They have an abhorrent offensive line and absolutely no running game. Plus, the passing game has obviously suffered since they traded away Amari Cooper.
Meanwhile, the Arizona defense is not quite as bad as you’d expect for a 2-7 team. They are giving up 25 points per game, which is around the middle of the pack. Actually, only conceding 26 points to the Chiefs last week was quite impressive. To date, only the Broncos and Rams have posted more than 27 points against the Cardinals, which is respectable.
One thing the Cardinals have going for them is a strong pass rush led by 8.5 sacks from Chandler Jones. As a team, the Cardinals have 29 sacks in nine games, including five in last week’s loss against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Given the state of Oakland’s offensive line, I can see the Cardinals putting consistent pressure on Derek Carr, enabling them to continue the trend of the Raiders scoring 10 or fewer points.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals finally got a breakout game from running back David Johnson last week. He’s been held under wraps most of the season, but his 98 rushing yards against the Chiefs could be a sign that the offensive line is getting their act together. With the Raiders giving up 141 yards per game on the ground, there’s every chance Johnson can have another big game, taking some of the heat off Rosen.
If the Cardinals can give Rose some time in the pocket, he should be able to get the ball out to Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, a viable receiving duo. The good news for Arizona is that the Raiders have just eight sacks on the season. That’s an embarrassingly low number and a big reason why Oakland is giving up over 30 points per game this year. I don’t know if the Cardinals can reach that number, but if Rosen isn’t running for his life, they could get close.
Obviously, I don’t love putting my trust in the 2-7 cardinals. But it’s a little easier to find positive signs in Arizona’s season than Oakland’s season, especially over the past month. At the moment, the Cardinals look the part of an actual NFL team. I can’t say the same for Oakland. I’ll eat the points and hope the Cardinals can cover a 4-point spread at home against the helpless Raiders.