The Cardinals and Raiders made very different journeys last season. Arizona shrugged off the mediocrity of previous years to make the NFL playoffs, while Oakland did not make progress at all. The Cardinals had one of the best coaches in the league while the Raiders fired their coach.
What We Know About The Coaches
Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals is 4-6 in the preseason, 0-2 after a 22-19 loss to San Diego, the second game in which the Cardinals have scored 19 points this preseason. Arians has a lot to work through, chiefly on offense, where his team needs to be ready to perform in a very physical and demanding NFC West.
Jack Del Rio is 22-16 in the preseason, 1-1 this year, after his team lost to Minnesota last week. Del Rio is the second straight Oakland Raiders coach who was previously the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. Dennis Allen, the man Del Rio is replacing, was also Denver’s defensive coordinator before coming over to be the head coach for the Raiders. Del Rio is a steady hand, a veteran coach who knows how this business works. He coached Jacksonville to the playoffs before reaching a ceiling with that organization. The Raiders are hoping his savvy in this profession will make a difference for the franchise. This is an even matchup as reflected on the NFL odds board.
The Cardinals got a 57-yard pass from starter Carson Palmer, who looks solid so far. He shouldn’t get too much playing time in this game (not more than necessary), because Arizona needs to establish its third quarterback. Drew Stanton is second, but there’s a real battle between Logan Thomas and Phillip Sims for third. Thomas did not complete a pass in Arizona’s loss to San Diego, while Sims led the third-unit offense to 10 fourth-quarter points. That’s a tug of war the Cardinals and Arians need to resolve before the preseason is over, so expect the two to get a lot of reps here.
The Raiders got an inconsistent outing from starter Derek Carr against the Minnesota Vikings, but Carr did complete a 40-yard pass. The thing with the Raiders is that their game against Minnesota was interrupted twice by lightning. It is hard to get a sense of where backups such as Christian Ponder stand in the pecking order when the game was played under abnormal circumstances. This is even, if only because Oakland’s situation is just too mysterious and should not be overanalyzed by those placing NFL Picks.
Team Depth & Rotations
Neither team suffered any major injuries last week in the preseason. The third preseason game is often a dress rehearsal for the regular season, but Arizona has some battles further down the depth chart to witness. The Raiders will probably play more of their starters, which should give them a slight overall edge in this one.
Outlook & NFL Pick
That last edge for the Raiders in terms of overall player rotations should probably enable them to win this game. Arizona doesn’t want to overextend Carson Palmer here. It should give him a light night while Stanton and the other backups get more reps. Oakland, on the other hand, should play Carr a lot, probably a full half. Advantage, Raiders.
NFL Pick: Raiders PK at The Greek