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Week 7: Broncos at Cardinals, Thursday Night Football

The Arizona Cardinals are back at the bird’s nest Thursday, still looking for a win in front of their home crowd. Denver trots down the hill from a loss against the Rams and they have yet to win on the road this season. Somethings got to give in Week 7 Thursday Night Football, and we’ve got the answer.

 

DENVER BRONCOS at ARIZONA CARDINALS

Line: Broncos -1 and Over/Under 42

Pointspreads are known as the great equalizer in pro sports and in the past month, they’ve done more than just level the playing field for the Arizona Cardinals. Starting with their second home game of the season in Week 3, Arizona has rattled off four consecutive covers for those who were brave enough to jump on them early enough against the Vikings. Worst case scenario, Cardinal backers earned a push in Minnesota and yet here we are, still seeing Arizona as the opening underdog against a Bronco team that’s riding a four-game straight up losing streak. What gives?

 

Granted, Denver’s recent string of losses came against the Ravens (4-2), Chiefs (5-1), Jets (3-3) and Rams (6-0), four teams with a combined 18-6 record. They did open the season with back-to-back victories but those seem like eons ago, not to mention they were both at home and by three points or less. We don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble in Bronco land but close margin wins over the Seahawks and Raiders don’t really count for much these days. After all, it’s not 2016.

 

The straight up record for road teams on a Mile High slide like Denver’s against opponents that have covered at least three of their past four is 36-102. These teams are normally getting a big boost from the oddsmaker but again, that’s what makes this line so strange. When these teams are faves or small dogs, they are 5-9 SU/ATS and the average line is -1 point.

 

CASE FOR CASE?

You could look at this from an optimistic side. Denver’s run game leads the NFL with 5.3 yards per carry. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman are taking the pressure off Case Keenum and the first-year Bronco QB has responded with back-to-back 300-yard passing games. Keenum has trimmed his interceptions down to just one per game after throwing three in the season opener. He’s also making an effort to stretch the field and this is where the game could be won or lost.

 

Arizona’s front seven is getting a good pass rush, ranking 9th in QB sack percentage at 7.9. They’ve been holding opponents to less than 7.0 yards per pass but they are also giving up 69% completions. Keenum will dink and dunk his way down the field all day long if you give him a chance but if Arizona brings pressure and gets good play out of their corners, they could win this battle.

 

Denver lost a key piece to its offensive line last week when guard Ronald Leary suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the loss to Los Angeles. They’ll shuffle the line and make adjustments but on a short week and playing on the road in a dome, it will be a challenge for the offense to stay in sync. Max Garcia will step in but Leary was arguably Denver’s best O-Lineman.

 

PRIMETIME PREDICTION

The Cardinals were blown away in their home opener against Washington but they fought to stay close against the Bears and then had a great chance at winning Josh Rosen’s first start in Week 4 against the Seahawks. Teams that are winless at home past Week 6 are 13-3 SU and 11-4-1 ATS when hosting foes in a funk but one thing we have to keep an eye on is the status of WR Larry Fitzgerald (back). Fitz was questionable with a hammy in Week’s 3-5 and he played through it but this is a different injury and a short week. Larry and rookie receiver Christian Kirk lead the team in targets with 33 apiece and it’s essential that Rosen have all weapons at his disposal if he’s hoping to better this Bronco D. Arizona’s entire O-Line is listed as ‘questionable’, too, so check in on that. HC Steve Wilks has played 79% of his questionable players thus far in 2018 and the bottom line is that everyone on this team wants a win. With home field, we’re giving them the nod.

Week 7 TNF Pick: Take the Cardinals

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