Scoring points has been an issue for the Arizona Cardinals in the early part of the season and things don’t get any easier with Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears on the horizon in Week 3. We expected the Cards offense to look different following the retirement of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer, but we didn’t expect the group to be so inept. The Cards were shut out by the Rams last week and they have scored a total of six points on the season, easily the fewest in the NFL.
This contest in Week 3 of the regular season will go down Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 4:25 p.m. ET at University of Phoenix Stadium.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Chicago Bears -6
Arizona Cardinals +6
The Bears haven’t played as a road favorite in nearly two years, but they’ll be laying points in the desert. Chicago has the confidence of the betting public with 85 percent of the early action favoring the visitors. As a result the line shifted from its opening of Bears -5.5 to the current -6. And there’s a strong chance it spikes even higher before kickoff. Arizona’s inability to score resulted in movement on the total from its opening of 40 to 38.
Larry Fitzgerald – The Cards need all the help they can get on offense, which is why the hamstring injury suffered by Fitzgerald in last week’s game is a concern. Fitz was pulled as more of a precautionary measure by Steve Wilks, and the coach thinks his receiver will be well enough to play on Sunday, but there is no guarantee. Fitz leads the team with 10 catches and 104 yards.
Matchup to Watch
The Cards are last in nearly every major offensive statistical category and the problems go well beyond a simple fix. In two games the offense has produced six points, 228 passing yards and 350 total yards, all dead last by a wide margin. At least the ground game doesn’t rank 32nd. The Cards have managed to gain 122 rushing yards, ahead of only New Orleans.
In an attempt to rectify the problem, Wilks hinted at making changes after a 34-0 loss to the Rams. That could mean a change in personnel and also a change in the game plan. Wilks and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy are scaling back the playbook, getting to a simplified version so the team can play fast without thinking. There’s also a chance Josh Rosen takes over for the ineffective Sam Bradford, who threw for 90 yards on 27 attempts last week.
Whoever plays and however fast they go, the Cards will have to think about Mack on the other side of the football. Mack’s strip-sack of Russell Wilson on Monday was his second of the season and the sixth Bears sack of the game. Chicago leads the NFL with 10 sacks through two games and they didn’t allow Wilson time to breath. Not only is Mack doing the job he’s getting paid a lot of money to do, he’s also opening holes for other defenders. Eight different Bears have recorded at least one sack this season with Mack and Danny Trevathan each collecting a pair.
20.0 – Arizona ranks last in another important category that explains their difficulty in scoring and moving the football. The Cards converted 3 of 12 third-down chances last week against the Rams, and their 25 percent success rate was actually an improvement from their opener. Baby steps for the offense.
The Cards were 1 of 8 on third-down against Washington and they are 32nd with an overall conversion rate of just 20 percent. As a result they’re averaging 9.5 first downs, four fewer than Buffalo, and have possessed the football for just under 24 minutes per game. Two more categories the Cards are the worst in.
Free ATS Pick
Whatever the Cards are doing on offense isn’t working and, according to Wilks, changes will be made. They have a weapon in David Johnson but he hasn’t gotten the touches. Of course, that’s hard to do when you don’t have the football. And moving against the Bears is going to be a chore. The addition of Mack makes a good defense that much better and I can’t see the Cards sustaining any drives.
After losing their opener, the Bears responded with a gritty effort on Monday night, and while Mitchell Trubisky is still a work in progress, he’s proven to be the leader of the offense. He’s only going to get better and so are the Bears, who win and cover while cashing the over.
NFL Betting Odds: Bears 26, Cardinals 14
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