The NFL odds are favoring the Packers in this one at -4, with a total of 35 points. Will Bruce Ariens and his new-look Cardinals take the Packers by surprise, or will Mike McCarthy and Green Bay put them to sleep early?
First year coach -sort of
Ariens of course famously filled in for Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, and now is taking his high-flying offense to Arizona. Most first-year head coaches in their first game as a head coach will want to get a Win, and I think Ariens in no different. With new quarterback Carson Palmer, I see Ariens trying to get at least two and maybe three series out of his first string offense in this game. How often do you get to gauge your offseason preparedness against a former Super Bowl champion?
While they won’t be in for long, I still think the 2nd and 3rd strings for Arizona will do just fine in this game. Veteran quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley will both get plenty of time in this game as well, and they are going to need it if Palmer ever goes down. Along with testing out the offensive line’s pass protection, I think this game has passing written all over it for the Cardinals.
Take a look at the Cardinals Season Win Total Odds, part of our NFL preseason coverage!
Pack running attack
We already know what the passing game for the Packers looks like, and I sincerely doubt we will see much of it in this first week of the preseason. There is no reason for the Packers and McCarty to risk injury to one of their key WRs or to Aaron Rodgers. He and the starters will be in the game long enough for a drive or two, and to see how the offensive line looks after giving up 50 sacks last year.
The Packers will be much more concerned with their young running game. Rookies Eddie Lacy and Jonathon Franklin will both be getting heavy looks here, and a true camp battle between these two will be great for the Packers, but not for winning this game.
McCarthy might want to evaluate them both heavily in this game, and giving them each 5-10 carries in this game seems like a reasonable expectation. With that being said, you have to think they may want to run the ball even more than they normally would, just to test the young two runners out. Plus they are shopping Alex Green, so the running game will be on full display. It might be good for their long term future this season, but if their game plan does include a lot of running, they should not be favored in this game by four points.
NFL offseason coverage continues with the Packers Season Win Total Odds preview!
The Sharp Pick
Ariens and the Cardinals will be airing the ball out all game, and even if the Packers fall behind, I see them running the ball still. They might try and win the 2nd or third preseason game as most coaches do, but the Cards present great sports pick value as dogs of more than three points in this spot. I could easily see them winning and/or covering this game due to the Packers assumed game plan.
NFL Pick: Choose the Cardinals laying the points, at +4 for your NFL picksHave a different opinion? Share it on our message boards!