Date/Time: November 30, 4:05 p.m. ET
Spread: Arizona -2.5
The Arizona Cardinals ran into a buzzsaw last Sunday in a 19-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Mike Smith probably sealed his fate as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons with some terrible clock management to turn a win into a loss against the Cleveland Browns. Both teams will be looking to get back in the win column on Sunday as the Cardinals head east to the Georgia Dome to take on the Falcons in a rare 4:05 kickoff in the Eastern Time Zone. The Cardinals are a road favorite of around a field goal.
Drew Stanton couldn’t get anything going for the Cardinals and the running game was basically non-existent against the Seahawks last weekend. Stanton was 14-of-26 passing for just 149 yards. He was picked off and also sacked three times. In Stanton’s defense, Larry Fitzgerald was held out of the game with a knee injury that has him listed as questionable for the game against Atlanta. Field position played a big part in this game, as the Cardinals started one drive past their own 23-yard-line. Seattle started six of their eight drives at their own 39 or better. The Cardinals were 3-of-12 on third down.
Given the field position problems, the Cardinals defense did a tremendous job holding the Seahawks to 19 points. The Seahawks kicked four field goals inside the red zone and this game was just the second one all season that the Cardinals allowed more than 100 yards rushing. Russell Wilson was sacked seven times and the Cardinals had 11 tackles for loss. The Cardinals have gotten progressively better against the pass over the last few weeks, moving from 31st to 25th as the secondary has gotten healthier. They have been stout against the run all season long. The Cardinals still haven’t allowed more than 20 points to any team except for Denver.
The Atlanta Falcons really let one slip away against the Cleveland Browns and the margin for error has gotten thinner for Matt Ryan and the offense. Ryan really struggled at times against the Browns, even though he threw for 273 yards and a couple of touchdowns. He was brutal in the first half, throwing into double coverage and missing some easy reads. Once again, Ryan got no help from the running game, which registered zero carries of more than seven yards. Donte Whitner dropped a pick-six and the Falcons’ most exciting play was Devin Hester’s near kick-six return on Billy Cundiff’s 60-yard field goal attempt to end the half.
The Falcons defense intercepted Brian Hoyer three times, but Hoyer made some really awful decisions throughout the game. The Falcons recorded one sack, but they were gashed by the rushing attack of the Browns. The Falcons allowed 5.6 yards per carry on 29 rushing attempts and couldn’t get off the field on the final drive. A defensive holding penalty on fourth down extended the game and the Browns came away with the win. The Falcons have the league’s worst pass defense and rank 24th against the run, but that number is going in the wrong direction after allowing 162 yards last Sunday.
Bruce Arians had a rare double loss last weekend against the Seahawks in the 19-3 final That game dropped the Cardinals 9-2 straight up and 8-3 against the spread. Arians is now 28-11 straight up and 25-10-4 against the spread. Mike Smith basically signed his own pink slip with the clock management disaster in the loss to Cleveland. He fell to 65-47 straight up and 59-52-1 against the number.
Free NFL Picks: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are clearly the better team and the line expresses that. Everybody knows how much better Matt Ryan is in the Georgia Dome. The Cardinals are on back-to-back road games with a trip east this week. Regardless, the Cards are favored and they look like the right side here. Getting Larry Fitzgerald back would help, but the Cardinals spent a lot of time in Seattle’s backfield and Ryan probably won’t have a lot of time to throw. The Cardinals need to bounce back with one of San Francisco or Seattle improving to 8-4 this week.
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Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.