Short NFL Odds Make 49ers -2.5 the Pick Over Cardinals

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 5:15 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014 5:15 PM UTC

The Arizona Cardinals used to have a Heisman winner as their starting quarterback. Now they’ve got a career third-stringer lining up under center for Sunday afternoon’s game against their NFC West rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. Find out how this could affect the NFL betting odds.

Jason’s Record After Week 2: 4-7 ATS, 1-2-1 Totals

Profit: minus-8.8 units

Sometimes being good is good enough. Last year, the Arizona Cardinals put up with some ridicule after trading a couple of minor draft picks to the Oakland Raiders for QB Carson Palmer. It’s been eight years and nearly as many arm injuries since Palmer was a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. But he’s been a reasonably effective game manager for a while now, and certainly an upgrade over Arizona’s previous quarterbacks. The Cardinals finished the 2013 campaign at 10-6 SU and 11-5 ATS.

Now everything the Cards accomplished last year is in danger of unraveling. Palmer (shoulder) was a very late scratch for last Sunday’s game against the New York Giants; he suffered nerve damage in Week 1 and doesn’t know when he’ll play again. That leaves Drew Stanton (63.5 career passer rating) to pick up the slack as Arizona prepares to face the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX) at The U. Our NFL odds board as press time has just three online sportsbooks willing to publish the Cards as 2.5-point home dogs.


Stanton Delivers?
So who is Drew Stanton? You may remember him for his college years with the Michigan State Spartans, although sadly, his three years at the helm provided zero bowl games for Sparty. Not his fault. The Detroit Lions took Stanton in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, but he suffered a series of injuries and was stuck at No. 3 on the depth chart when Detroit let him go in 2011. Stanton split time with the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts in 2012 before backing up Palmer last year in Arizona.

Despite his paper-thin NFL profile, Stanton is still the kind of guy that scouts rave about. He’s a pro-style quarterback with serious athletic chops (he was the captain of the baseball team in high school), enough to play special teams for Michigan State in 2003 while he waited for his turn at quarterback. Stanton was also an academic All-American with a solid work ethic and leadership skills.

We saw some of that leadership on display during last week’s 25-14 comeback victory over the New York Giants (–1 at home). The athleticism? Not so much. Stanton connected on 14 of his 29 pass attempts for 167 yards; he didn’t throw any picks, but he didn’t throw any touchdown passes, either. Football Outsiders crunched the numbers and awarded Stanton minus-27 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Over Replacement) for his work against the floundering Giants. Uh-oh.


DYAR Maker
At least Stanton did better than Niners QB Colin Kaepernick (minus-64 DYAR), who melted down in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears (+7 away). That was an uncharacteristic performance for Kaepernick, though. He finished No. 8 overall in DYAR last year, and in his 2014 season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Kaepernick was good for plus-141 Total DYAR, with a passer rating of 125.5.

We’d expect some regression to the mean this week. We’d also expect the Niners to bounce back from that embarrassing loss to Chicago and give it the proverbial 110 percent against their division rivals. This is a great opportunity for them to create some space in the NFC West standings while Palmer is still on the shelf. Expect to see some big numbers for San Fran once our first consensus reports come in for this matchup. We're leaning towards the 49ers for our NFL picks.


The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: SF

Defense/Special Teams: SF

Coaching: SF

Market Bias: ARI

Betting Line Value: SF

Verdict: 3-star pick on SF

Free NFL Pick: Put 5.5 units on the 49ers –2.5 (–108) at Heritage

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