NFL Betting Expert Predictions - Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers

Graham and teammate back to back

Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:44 PM GMT

Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals collide in Week 8 in what is a must-win game for both teams. Something is going to have to give. We analyze this NFC showdown and serve up choice NFL picks. 

Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1 SU, 1-1 away)

The Cardinals were blasted in the 2015 NFC Championship game by the Carolina Panthers. It marked the second time Bruce Arians and the Cardinals were sent packing unceremoniously by the Panthers in the postseason (2014 playoffs). A week 8 date usually doesn't come with the same kind of intensity as a sudden death playoff game, but this one is an exception.

The Cardinals are in a spot of trouble. A 3-3-1 record isn't disastrous in the broad spectrum of the season, but it could be in the context of a tough NFC West division. As it is, the Cardinals botched a home date with the Seahawks in week 7 and settled for a 6-6 tie. Bruce Arians weren't best pleased, particularly with his kicker who missed the potential game-winning field goal. That his counterpart did the exact same didn't appease Arians at all. He summed it up best in his post-game interview, ‘you get paid to do a job.'

In as much as Arians has a point, there's a sense of negativity that prevails over the Cardinals. Might be they are still suffering the hangover of the NFC Championship defeat to the Panthers. They haven't looked good at all since week 1 of the 2016 season, and the only teams they've managed to beat are current middleweights and stragglers: Buccaneers, Niners, and Jets.

Carolina Panthers (1-5 SU, 1-2 home)

So the Panthers strike an even worse pose in the league's standings. Sporting a 1-5 SU record and a 1-2 home record essentially makes the Panthers worse off than the Cardinals. It's not been an easy schedule though with a reprisal of the Super Bowl matchup in week 1 against Denver and a tough matchup against Minnesota in week 3 and a couple of dates with explosive offensive-minded divisional rivals Atlanta and New Orleans. To top it all, Cam Newton's concussion didn't help.

If there's one thing that the Panthers have going in their favor is the notorious unpredictability and inconsistency of the entire NFC South field. The Panthers may be propping up the division but they must feel they still have a reasonable shot to turn things around. They're coming off a bye week. That's an advantage. As well, they have home field advantage over a side that is just 1-1 SU and ATS on the road behind a loss to the Bills and a win over the Niners.

Cardinals vs. Panthers NFL betting verdict and picks

On one hand, this is a level matchup between 2015 playoff teams that are frightfully disappointing in the early goings of 2016. Things could change. One or the other or both could turn it all around as the season plods along, but it's anybody's guess which it will be.

Right now there is little confidence to be had with the Cardinals or the Panthers and that makes handicapping this game a bit of a tossup. It's reasonable to assume either has a viable shot to win. Last week's 6-6 tie, however, leaves an indelible impression, one that is hard to shake off. In fact, it has us fading the Cardinals on our Week 8 NFL picks because the look to be there for the taking. The question is: will the Panthers see it the same way and come through as the NFL odds-on faves? Fortune favors the brave, so they say. Take the Panthers as the -2.5 home chalk.

Free NFL Picks: Panthers -2.5 (-113)

Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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