Jack’s Free Pick Sunday: Arizona Cardinals +10
The Atlanta Falcons are just not in a good state of mind right now. And with their poor mental state, they have no business laying 10 points this week, not even against a team that’s considered to be one of the worst in the NFL in the Arizona Cardinals. Let’s dive a little deeper into Atlanta’s state of mind.
This is a Falcons team that went to the Super Bowl two years ago and lost to the Patriots in excruciating fashion. Then last year they earned their way back to the playoffs and even beat the Rams on the road before a tough loss to the Eagles. So this is a team used to playing in big games the past two seasons.
But here they sit at 4-9 on the season and with nothing to play for. It has been a challenge for them to find reasons to be motivated every week, and they just haven’t been. They got back to 4-4 on the season with back-to-back wins over the Giants and Redskins, but have completely fallen apart since.
Indeed, the Falcons are 0-5 SU & 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall. Four of those five losses came by double-digits, and the five losses have come by an average of 10.6 points per game. That’s the sign of a team that has quit, and at the very least one that is just going through the motions. How can they possibly be motivated to face this 3-10 Arizona team this week?
The Falcons have an atrocious defense that is giving up 28.2 points and 387.1 yards per game on the season. They have been even worse at home, giving up 28.7 points and 430.6 yards per game in their seven home games thus far. They are just 2-5 ATS at home this season, and 3-10 ATS overall.
The Cardinals have a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen, who is making strides every week. They are exactly the type of team that even at 3-10 will show up every week. They certainly showed up two weeks ago in their last road game, a shocking 20-17 upset win at Green Bay as 13.5-point underdogs. That’s the same Packers team that just beat the Falcons 34-20 at home last week.
I think the Cardinals are being undervalued off their 3-17 home loss to the Lions last week. But that was one of the most misleading finals of the week. The Lions only had one offensive touchdown and managed just 218 total yards against this very solid Arizona defense. The Cardinals outgained them by 61 yards, yet lost by 14.
Rosen should get some help this week from running back David Johnson, who should have plenty of success against this Atlanta defense. The Falcons rank 26th in the NFL in giving up 131.2 rushing yards per game, and they are even worse ranking 29th in yards per carry (5.0) allowed. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing 71.3% of their passes inside the Georgia Dome this season. Rosen is in line for one of his best games of the season.
Plays on road teams (Arizona) - after failing to cover three of their last four games coming in, in December games are 43-16 (72.9%) ATS over the last five seasons. The Cardinals are 14-5 ATS in their last 19 road games vs. a team with a losing home record. Arizona is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven against NFC opponents. The Falcons are 0-6 ATS in their last six vs. a team with a losing record. Bet the Cardinals Sunday.
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1* Free Sharp Play on 49ers +5 -115
This is a 1* Free Play on the Baltimore Ravens.
The Bucs did their best to play “spoiler” to the Saints last weekend and while they looked “OK” for one quarter, eventually they’d stumble and succumb to the superior team. The Bucs laid everything on the line at home and the result was a 28-14 setback. Now they have to hit the road and face the league’s No. 1 defense which comes in off a tough 27-24 OT road loss in KC. The Ravens will be hungry to return to form and to keep pace in the playoff picture.
Additionally note that Tampa is just 3-6 ATS in its last nine after a loss by ten points or more, while Baltimore is 4-1 ATS in its last five as a home favorite in the 7.5 to 14 points range. Lay the points.
1* Free Play on Eagles +11 -110
Free Play on Giants -2½ -120