The Broncos & Cardinals square off for this last game of the NFL Preseason on Thursday evening in an intriguing inter-conference. Let’s send our best dogs in to give this stinker a sniff.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Denver Broncos NFL Odds Overview
The Denver Broncos (3-0, 55 PF-42 PA) welcome the Arizona Cardinals (1-2, 68 PF-79 PA) to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on Thursday night for this Preseason Week 4 inter-conference affair between two teams who made the Playoffs last season. The Total on this last preseason game for both teams has been set at 38 with the Moneyline odds seeing hist Denver as robust -265 favorites with Arizona priced at +225 on the takeback .
The Arizona Cardinals (11-6 SU overall in 2014, 11-6 ATS) had a surprisingly nice Regular Season last year, but to expect Head Coach Bruce Arians (21-11-1 ATS) to replicate that feat—even with starting QB Carson Palmer returning to the team from an injury—this season with the Cardinals nasty schedule is a stretch, especially with the 2nd Half looking like an NFL minefield. Arizona (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Coral) has done a nice job grooming a very strong Defense through the years, but this team’s inability to be able to score the easy TD and mount the crucial Drive is worrisome. So far this Preseason, Arizona and Palmer have really failed to impress. In Game 1, the Cardinals lost to the Chiefs at Home in Arizona (34-19); in Game 2, Arizona lost to the Chargers at Home (22-19); and in Game 3 on Saturday night, the Redbirds got their first win, and did find a way to top the hapless Raiders in Oakland in the final minute of the game on a nice drive and to avoid Overtime (30-23). So this game should be a good, and maybe necessary for the practice for Arizona’s Regular Season Week 1 opener on Sunday, September 13 against QB Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints at Home at Univesity of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Here, Arizona will hope that Palmer (8-22, 103 yards, 2 Interceptions) fares better against Denver and expect him to play the 1st Half with backup Drew Stanton (8-9, 58 yards vs. Chargers) and third- and fourth-stringers Logan Thomas and Phillip Simms likely getting some valuable action in the 2nd Half against a team, like themselves, with a good Defense these days.
On Offense, TE Ifeanyi Momah and WR John Brown should be targeted frequently with Old Man River and future Hall of Fame WR Larry Fitzgerald possibly being rested and saved for the real deal, real season. No sense getting a key WR hurt like the Packers, Panthers, Giants, Bears, etc... RBs Marion Grice, David Johnson and “Ask” Kerwynn Williams should also get their fair share of carries for the Cardinals as HC Arians looks to figure out what 12 players he will have to cut to get his Roster down to 75 for the opener. Expect visiting Arizona to care less about winning here than hosts Denver who pride themselves at winning at Home—the Broncos were a perfect 8-0 at Home in the Regular Season last year—and have a built-in Altitude advantage which often sees out-of-shape opponents breathless in the 4th Quarter. Advantage Coloradans.
The Denver Broncos (12-5 SU overall in 2014, 8-9 ATS) have been perfect in the Win/Loss column this Preseason, with wins against the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 1 (22-20), the Texans in Houston in Week 2 (14-10), and against the 49ers at Home last weekend in Week 3 (19-12). So, QB Peyton Manning and this team have been kind to the bettors as well as the fans, but know darn well they have much work to do still, that Manning has lost a little zip on his ball and that making the transition from a perceived passing team to a Running one won’t come easy. Still, this Denver team is playing incredible Defense (44 points allowed in 3 games), has some great skill position players on its talented Roster, even with Free Agent TE Julius Thomas signing with the Jaguars. And the Broncos play in a fairly weak division (AFC West) and Denver holds one of the best Homefield advantages and has one of the best QBs in the history of the game, regardless of his age. No small things. Here, look for the Broncos (14/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) to try to get the 39-year-old Manning to sharpen up his game and confidence some after an average Preseason to date and try to effectively ready the Broncos for their Week 1 opener (Sunday, Sept. 13) against the Baltimore Ravens (Broncos -4½, Total: 49½, Pinnacle) here at home in the Mile High City.
Against the Niners, Manning was sacked 3 times and in 63 total snaps (9 possessions) this entire Preseason, the former University of Tennessee star and Denver’s No. 1 Offense has produced a paltry 2 FGs, 0 TDs, 6 Punts and 1 Interception. And 6 points and 6 punts in 9 possessions is never a good thing in football. Ever. Backup QB Brock Osweiler (15/20, 104 yards vs. SF) should again get much playing time with skill position guys like RBs CJ Anderson, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball, WRs Jordan Norwood and star Demaryius Thomas and TE James Casey getting the football around 3-7 times apiece. Expect a significantly better performance on the Offensive side of the ball from Manning and the Broncos here against Arizona under new Head Coach Gary Kubiak..
Realistic Preseason Expectations
This is a tough game on which to bet, although if you’re the type of gambler who doesn’t mind laying a little bit of chalk and taking a high-priced favorite on the Moneyline, then backing the Broncos here at the -265 (5Dimes) straight or using Denver as a parlay element—like with the New England Patriots on the Moneyline at Home in Foxboro against the New York Giants—is recommended. Denver has always been a tough place for opponents to get the upset and the way Cardinals QB Palmer has looked so far doesn’t exactly instill confidence. As far as the Total, even though this should be scrimmage-like, expect Arizona to get at least a TD and probably around 3 FGs (16 points) with the host Broncos and Manning likely putting up 2 TDs and 3 or 4 FGs (between 23 and 26 points) and looking much better on Offense than they have, helping to send this game over the posted Total of 38. Whereas some NFL teams will have played an average or below average Preseason schedule to help try to ready themselves for the Regular Season, Denver should most definitely find themselves ready after playing the Seahawks-Texans-49ers-Cardinals all back-to-back-to-back-to-back to try to sharpen their sword should serve them well in the future.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Denver Broncos 23 Arizona Cardinals 17
Free NFL Pick : Broncos Moneyline -265 & 'OVER' 38 at 5Dimes