Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Night Football Preview: Ravens @ Cardinals

As much as I hate to say it, we are in a bad spot. Two weeks in a row, we had college football teasers blown up by Last Play Of The Game Special Teams Miracles As Time Expires - first Michigan, then Florida State. I can't take any more special teams defense heroics. 

Also we're hemorrhaging money:
Thursday Nights: 12-14-2
Monday Nights: 17-20

So take these bits of advice at your own risk:

Line: Cardinals -9 and Over/Under 49.5

There's a lot to consider with a line that big. For one, the Ravens are 1-5 but have not lost a game by more than 6 points. They have one-possession losses to the Broncos and Bengals, and they beat the Steelers. However, they have losses to the Raiders, Browns, and 49ers. 

On the other side of the field, the Cardinals have blown out the Saints, Bears, 49ers, and Lions by an average of 25.5 points. They lost by 2 to the Rams, and they are coming off a 12 point loss at Pittsburgh. 

I think the best way to attack this is to see how St. Louis and Pittsburgh kept Arizona in check, and then figure out if Baltimore can replicate that. 

The Rams had a very Rams game when they beat the Cardinals 24-22. Nick Foles had just 171 yards, but he threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Todd Gurley did the heavy lifting, totaling 146 rushing yards. The biggest thing they did, though, was limiting Carson Palmer and the Cardinals to just one towndown. 

The Steelers also limited Arizona to just one touchdown. Landry Jones and Mike Vick combined for a surprisingly good stat line of 174 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Vick and Le'Veon Bell combined for 135 rushing yards. 

You do not beat the Cardinals by going all "New NFL" on them and trying to throw for 400 yards - just ask Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, and Matt Stafford. You beat them by pounding the ball, chewing up clock, and holding Arizona to field goals instead of touchdowns. 

I might be crazy, but I really like Baltimore here. 

In their Denver game, they held the Broncos to 0 offensive touchdowns, 1 defensive touchdown, and 4 field goals. They couldn't get anything going against Denver's tough defense, and Joe Flacco's 2 interceptions really killed any chance they had of actually winning. 

In their Bengals game, the Ravens got torn up by Andy Dalton. The Red Ginger (or whatever his gay nickname is) had 383 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he also rushed for a touchdown. If Baltimore had made one more stop in the red zone and held Cincy to a field goal, they could have pulled out a win. 

The Pick: Ravens +9 (-110). I think the line is 3-4 points too high, and I think Baltimore is going to be able to keep it close by pounding the ball with Justin Forsett and Javorius Allen.

Now, onto the player props:

The Cards have a running back committee that is led by Chris Johnson (93 carries, 2 touchdowns) but also includes Andre Ellington (16 carries, 2 touchdowns) and David Johnson (21 carries, 3 touchdowns). I really would have liked to take David to score, but Bovada has not made him available. I'm making up my own odds and picking David Johnson To Score A Touchdown (+550)

On the Baltimore side, my first thought was the entire game is going to go through Forsett. I was thinking about taking him at even money to score, but I'm nervous that he totaled just 56 yards in Baltimore's games against Denver and Cincy. So I'm staying away. 

Kamar Aiken Over 3.5 Receptions (-105) is a tasty bet because he's gone for 5-5-4-3 receptions in the last four games he played. He got at least 7 targets in each of those games, and you have to think the Cardinals will be keying on Steve Smith tonight to try to negate Joe Flacco's first option. 

He's averaging 5.5 catches per game and he had 10 last week, so John Brown Over 4.5 Receptions (-115) sort of feels like stealing. Thanks, Las Vegas! The same goes for Larry Fitzgerald Over 6 Receptions (-140), because Fitz has only caught less than 6 passes once this year, when he caught 5. I think I might make that the lock of the week just so we can all tweet #NiceHandsLarry at each other all night for a good laugh. 

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