Monday Night Chargers vs Cardinals Betting Odds & NFL Picks

Kevin Stott

Thursday, September 4, 2014 6:48 PM GMT

Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014 6:48 PM GMT

Monday Night Football is back and after the Giants face the Lions in Detroit, the second game of the network’s doubleheader is this intriguing inter-conference matchup between the Chargers and the Cardinals.

The last game on the NFL schedule for Week 1, this one should actually be pretty entertaining with the Chargers (10-8 SU, 11-6-1 ATS) having slowly evolved into a team that’s now conscious of playing defense (San Diego has allowed an average of 20, 24, 22 and 21 points over the past four seasons) while, on the other hand, the Cardinals (10-6 SU, 10-5-1 ATS) have been making strides to try to score more points over the past four NFL seasons (18, 19, 16 and 24 last season). The straight up and point spread records reveal that these two teams are very evenly matched as the points for (PF) and points against (PA) averages from last season (Chargers 24 PF-21 PA, Cardinals 24 PF-20 PA) reveal.

Of note, the weather in the Phoenix metropolitan area on Wednesday was a blistering 107 ° so the retractable roof may possibly be shut and the temperature will likely be around 72° in UoP Stadium on Monday night, thanks in great part to the good folks at Arizona Public Service. The playing surface (grass) is a good one for Chargers QB Philip Rivers (23-14-2 ATS as an Underdog) and his receivers (Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd). Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (22-37-2 ATS as a Favorite) isn’t nearly as dangerous as Rivers or as in step with his team right now, and yet again, the trends and the injuries and the better QB seems to favor a solid road underdog in Week 1. A weird week.

 

NFL Odds Have Host Cardinals 3-Point Favorites Over Chargers, Total at 45
NFL odds everywhere have Arizona (8/1 to win the NFC West, LVH SuperBook) set as field goal favorites (except for Pinnacle which had the Cardinals at -3½ on Wednesday) over San Diego and the total at 45 (Pinnacle had 45½) in this first meeting between the two teams since 2010. The Chargers (11/2 to win AFC West, LVH SuperBook) have an incredible trend going in their favor—a 4-0 ATS mark the L4 games at the Cardinals—but it’s important to point out here that last meeting in the desert between these two teams was way back in 2002, so, the sexy-looking trend is basically ancient history brother. Sort of like a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a one-piece bathing suit eating Reese’s Pieces.

But there certainly are a basket-full of trends which support taking RB Ryan Matthews and San Diego, including a 5-1-1 ATS mark as a Road Underdog last season (9-3-1 ATS over the past two years). Also: The Cardinals are 0-3 ATS as Home Favorites on MNF (SD is 3-5 ATS as Road Dogs on MNF); the Chargers are 7-2 SU in their last nine against the Cardinals; and, San Diego is 5-1 ATS over its L6 and 3-0 ATS in its L3 on the Road. But head-to-head since 1995, the two have actually been pretty even with San Diego holding a 4-2 SU edge (3-3 ATS). And Arizona has its own share of trends and streaks going in its favor. The Cardinals are 5-1-1 ATS in their L7, 7-2 SU over their L9 and 4-1 SU in their L5 at home. For me, the one trend that sort of sticks out is the simple one where the Chargers have beaten Arizona in 7 of the last 9 meetings. The two also just played in a meaningless game to end the preseason last month, with the Chargers prevailing, 12-9 in a battle of FG kickers. One of the truly great moments in American history for sure, up there with Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon and the invention of McRib.

 

Fear and Loathing (Injuries and Worries) at University of Phoenix Stadium
University of Phoenix Stadium has its own kind of modern mall-like charm to it—I’ve been there and my best friend Eric proceeded to throw a free Cardinals rally towel he was handed upon entrance into the nearest garbage can within five seconds of being inside the building (he’s a Steelers fan) as he celebrated his 34th birthday with a healthy combination of beer, hat-throwing and NFC cynicism—and games there tend to attract a decent number of visiting fans. And that will again be the case on Monday night with the game’s significance (the first of season), its high-profile (Monday Night Football on ESPN) and its proximity (San Diego is just 354.1 miles from the Valley of the Sun). So, the Chargers will definitely have some backers and some noise on their side in Week 1.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians will have some injury concerns on his mind heading in here and Arizona (40/1 to win Super Bowl, LVH SuperBook) will be without three-time Pro Bowl DE Darnell Dockett who is out for the season with a torn ACL he suffered in practice last month. A huge loss indeed. And the upcoming schedule is a little hard on the Cardinals with a road game (and a long flight) against the Giants coming up in Week 2 (Sept. 14); a home date with the 49ers (Sept. 21) in Week 3 and then a trip up to Denver to dance with Peyton Manning and the defending AFC champion Broncos in Week 4 (Oct. 5). So, a nasty 0-4 start is a real possibility for los Cardenales.

And while talking of future schedules, although the Chargers are home to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks next weekend (Sept. 14)—in what will be tough game to win against that insane defense—San Diego’s games in Weeks 3-7 are against the Bills, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders and Chiefs, so, expect the Chargers to get off to a pretty hot start this season, especially if they can win this season opener here in Glendale against legend Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals.

 

A Number of Different Ways Available to Approach This High-Profile Game
Not counting any individual player proposition bets which will come out closer to game time—look for a Malcom Floyd (Chargers) to Score a TD prop bet if you can, the kid is a star in the making—there are a number of different bets one can make if he or she likes the underdog Chargers (as well as the host Cardinals if that’s your opinion) in this game, but, for me, the Total (Points) isn’t one of them with conflicting recent Totals trends between San Diego (Under 4-1 L5 games) and Arizona (Over 4-2 L6 Home games). But there are some unique approaches here—even the Will it Go To Overtime? prop (Yes +1000, 10/1 bet365; No -2000). This is the exact type of game that could very well go to overtime, with two evenly matched teams not wanting to lose their season openers and like a 21-21 or 24-24 scoreline with both coaches playing the opening game like gridiron chess.

The Chargers (30/1 to win Super Bowl, LVH SuperBook) recent success both SU and ATS against the Cardinals makes taking a chance on San Diego in the Winner/(Moneyline) marketplace (Chargers +150 M/L, Betfair Sportsbook) seem very worthwhile here. And the Chargers Team Total at 20½ (-110, Sky Bet)—21½ at Paddy Power for anyone dreaming of middling on 21—looks somewhat appetizing although the Race to 15 Points prop bet might be a better approach (Chargers +110, Paddy Power) if you think the excitable Rivers and the San Diego offense can control the game and click in the opener. And with this being the opener, I’m expecting a little more rust in the first 30 minutes than in the second 30 minutes so the Second Half (+110, bet365) as the Highest Scoring Half with the small plus seems to have some value (First Half -137, Draw +1400). But value is best determined after the final score.

In the end, shopping around or buying the half-point and adding it to the 3 the Chargers are already getting here seems pretty wise with 3 always being such a key number—maybe the key number in the NFL. And a shot on underdog San Diego on the moneyline is probably also warranted in this game, as the Bolts have had the Cardinals number historically, have the better QB, have more confidence and less injuries heading in and just seem like the better and hungrier team entering this 2014/15 NFL season. Good enough for me.

FREE NFL PICKS: Chargers +3½ at Pinnacle, Chargers Moneyline +155 at The Greek

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