Quarterback depth has been killing the Arizona Cardinals this preseason. Maybe the Week 3 NFL odds will be kinder to them in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.
Are we done making fun of Carson Palmer yet? We've seen how important Palmer has been to the Arizona Cardinals the past couple of years, ever since the Oakland Raiders sent the veteran QB to the desert for a bag of kicking tees. Palmer gets another crack at his former employers this Sunday night (8:00 p.m. ET, NBC) when the Cardinals visit the Black Hole.
Unfortunately for the Cards, they'll be using at least one other quarterback on Sunday. While Palmer has been reasonably effective in exhibition play since his return from left knee surgery, his backups have been less than stellar. It's a familiar tale for Arizona fans, and their team is a 1-point road dog on the NFL odds board as we go to press.
Skeltons in the Closet
A decent quarterback is a highly valuable commodity in the NFL, as the Cardinals learned when they went from nearly winning the Super Bowl in 2008 to missing the playoffs after Kurt Warner retired. Maybe if Kevin Kolb had managed to stay healthy, things would have panned out, but Arizona was stuck giving the ball to the likes of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley – yes, that Ryan Lindley.
Things improved substantially when Palmer came to town. Arizona went 10-6 SU and 11-5 ATS in 2013, then won all of Palmer's six starts last year before he tore his ACL in Week 10. The Cards limped into the playoffs with a combination of Drew Stanton, who also got hurt, and Lindley, who passed for 82 yards in their 27-16 Wild Card loss to the Carolina Panthers (–5.5 at home).
Lindley isn't part of the mix anymore, but Stanton and Logan Thomas are still around, and rookie Phillip Sims has gotten some reps, too. None of the backups has played very well, although injuries to the offensive line haven't helped matters. Coach Bruce Arians has confirmed the starting unit will play into the second half this Sunday; that will make Arizona a little less unsavory as an NFL pick, but we're still not buying.
The Raiders have some decent QB depth in Derek “Don't Call Me David” Carr, Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin, although none of the three is as good as Palmer. They've split their first two exhibition games SU and ATS under new head coach Jack Del Rio, with both games going UNDER the posted total.
We could stick with the UNDER in Week 3, but we like Oakland in this spot. The team is healthy, new WR Amari Cooper looks like he's the real deal, and Del Rio has a 21-15-2 ATS record in preseason games. We're not too concerned about a low-scoring game affecting Oakland's chances of covering as the favorite, either. Let's roll with the home side, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Raiders –1 (–106) at Pinnacle