NFL Picks: Cardinals vs. Jaguars

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 7:44 PM GMT

Jacksonville guard Uche Nwaneri said this about his team’s first victory, "That whole moment was great. It's been a hard eight weeks. It was a sigh, a breath of fresh air for us..." But for those looking over the Week 11 betting odds, what do you make of the Jaguars? Are they ready to improve or just fortunate Tennessee turned the ball over four times.

Back to Basics Keys Jacksonville’s Success

I have been among those critical of first-year coach Gus Bradley, with the Jaguars being non-competitive in the first half of the season and playing at least visibly, disinterested.

Kudos to Bradley and his staff for making adjustments during their bye week and scaling back their offensive and defensive game plans to more manageable levels, making it easier for the players to comprehend and digest.

NFL football handicappers not doubt picked up on the Jags allowing a season-low 83 yards rushing, after being the worst team stopping the run all year.

“We got back to basics,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “Early on or even the last couple weeks ... we had games we were trying to do a little too much, and we scaled our package down for this week. I think we had a really good plan going into the game, very basic, not complex. It was stuff that we knew really well and we felt like we could play really fast with.”

After breaking their 13-game losing streak, Jacksonville is out to end a five-game home non-winning stretch and they will have to do better than the 11 total points they have mustered at EverBank Field this season.

Is Arizona Who What We Thought They Were?

When talking Cardinals football, the immortal meltdown of former coach Dennis Green is always top of the mind. For those studying the NFL odds or making sports picks, Arizona is intriguing discussion point.

After winning their past two home games, the Cardinals are 5-4 and their next five contests are in order - @ Jacksonville, Indianapolis, @Philadelphia, St. Louis and @Tennessee. Simple no, however, are their possibly three wins in this grouping if the defense continues to play well and the offense makes enough plays, certainly.

The Cardinals secret weapon is multifaceted. While you can break Arizona down position by position and find plenty of weak links, their best players are difference-makers.

Sportsbooks are well aware of the contributions of a Larry Fitzgerald, Darrell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Patrick Peterson and rookie Tyrann Mathieu. How these individuals perform has a direct impact on the success of coach Bruce Arians squad.

NFL Betting Odds and Matchup Numbers

Depending on the sportsbook, Arizona was released at either -7 or -6.5 initially and the number has stayed at the latter’s destination. This will be just the fourth-ever meeting between these teams (Jacksonville 2-1 SU & ATS), the third in north Florida. The Jaguars are 1-9 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points the last two seasons, while the Cards are 16-30 ATS the last two decades off two or more SU W’s.

The total is up a digit to 41 and Arizona is 18-5 UNDER as an away favorite.

What to Watch For

Jacksonville might have only gained 1.8 yards per carry in their win over Tennessee, nonetheless, they stayed with the run the entire game for a season-high 30 carries. (Granted, when you actually have a lead this is easier to do.) Having the same kind of patience would be a plus in spite of the Cardinals defense.

The less complicated defense will attempt to pressure Carson Palmer, who has at least one pick in each start and a short field only help the Jaguars.

Last week, tight end Rob Housler was involved in the passing game. The hope for Arians offense is this can make more room for Fitzgerald to avoid as much double coverage and feed him the pigskin with greater regularity.

The offensive line played pretty well against Houston and should do at least as well against Jacksonville. It is understandable the Cardinals don’t want to wear out the lighter Andre Ellington at running back, yet he makes more plays and to his point does not have the reputation as a fumbler like Rashard Mendenhall.

With the Cards ability to collapse the pocket and backed by a talented secondary, the often inaccurate throws of Chad Henne could lead to points in a hurry for ‘Zona.

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Final Outcome

With one of my SBR Forum NFL picks, I’ll take the better team who shown the ability to make plays in the fourth quarter.

NFL Pick: Arizona -6.5