NFL Preview and Betting Odds: Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals

Kurt Boyer

Whether it’s the Arizona Cardinals’ franchise history of moving cities and long dark eras of losing in-between a few winning stretches, or another reason, the Big Red do tend to get shafted in the media a little bit.

For instance Al Michaels (everyone’s favorite good-time buddy on social media) appears to be full of contempt of certain NFL teams, just as Pat Summerall before him. The Cardinals are unfortunately on Michaels’ “snicker” list. If Arizona won the next 500 NFC Championship Games in a row, the Sunday Night Football anchor would turn (slowly, due to being thawed from a cryogenic freeze) to Cris Collinsworth in the year 2569 and say, “Well you know, though, the Cardinals were a bad team 550 years ago.”

There’s no grand conspiracy and hopefully no bad blood between Mr. Miracle on Ice and the Bidwell dynasty. I believe that teams in “smaller” and far-removed markets (Phoenix absolutely isn’t a small city, but it’s far removed from the biggest sports media centers like ESPN and most of the Associated Press meccas on the east coast) tend to get the short end of the stick in punditry.

For instance, the Cardinals (and certain other NFL teams) are almost always ranked below big-hype franchises with identical records in national “Power Rankings” in multiple MSM outlets. In other words, if there’s 10 NFL clubs at 6-6 at a given time, Arizona is 1 of the teams that is usually at the bottom of the 6. Either the pundits think that the Cardinals are the luckiest team in football year after year after year, it doesn’t make sense logically that a franchise would consistently match others in W/L record without ever being as good as them.

Do the Panthers, visiting the Big Toaster at 4 PM this Sunday, suffer from the same kind of syndrome in the national media? Not always. They aren’t stroked and coddled like the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants, that’s for sure.

But something has caused Las Vegas and the gambling public to price Sunday’s kickoff the wrong way.

Who: Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals

When: Sunday, September 22nd, 4:05 PM EST

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Lines: CAR (+2.5) at AZ (-2.5) / O/U Total: (45)

Handicapping the Effect of Cam Newton’s Injury ATS

Cam Newton, virtually synonymous with the Carolina Panther offense throughout the decade, has been ruled out of Sunday’s contest with a foot injury:

The Carolina Panthers on Friday officially ruled quarterback Cam Newton out and named Kyle Allen the starter for Sunday’s game in Arizona against the Cardinals.

Newton aggravated a sprained left foot in his last outing, a Thursday night loss to Tampa Bay that dropped the Panthers to 0-2. He did not practice all week, working inside with the trainer and going to meetings while wearing a walking boot. “He’s actually coming along well,” coach Ron Rivera said Friday on a conference call. “The unfortunate part was last week he was playing on a short week and the foot didn’t have time to come back, as far as I understand it. It was pretty sore. It was just one of those things where we have to wait it out and see where it is [next week]. “The one thing we don’t want to do is have another setback.”

This will be Newton’s seventh missed start since he made his NFL debut in 2011 at Arizona. There was no indication on whether Newton would be available for next week’s game at Houston.

Sunday’s replacement Kyle Allen has only seen action in 2 NFL games. He has been adequate and careful, throwing 0 interceptions and a couple of TD throws. But it’s important to note that the line hasn’t really changed for the contest at Arizona. Newton has been off his game in 2019, and maybe some ‘cappers are secretly thinking that the QB change will be good for the Panthers.

But as usual, it’s the running game that is suffering while the passers take the heat. Christian McCaffery was the best rusher for the ‘Cats last weekend with (ahem) 37 yards on 16 carries. It was a big-time downgrade in blocking efficiency from the more-competitive showing vs L.A. in Week 1 (McCaffery had 100+ yards in that scrum).

The Carolina defense is not good enough to make up for a lack of push on the OL and subsequent lack of a security blanket for the passer to lean on.

Recommended Wager on Arizona-Carolina: Bet on Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have played well against a difficult schedule. The “historian” side of Las Vegas handicapping makes them an underdog at home against the troubled Panthers, but this isn’t 2018 anymore. Steve Wilks was such a poor NFL coach with such a poor staff around him that just about any HC can do better with the Big Red this go-around…even an unproven commodity like Kingsbury.

Murray’s only a rookie, but his offense is plenty alive, and he’ll make the difference as the Cardinals cover ATS (and probably win straight-up) against visiting Carolina.

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