Top Betting Value On Cardinals vs. 49ers for Week 17 NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 1:52 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014 1:52 PM GMT

The Arizona Cardinals need a win Sunday to have any chance of taking the NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers are apparently going to fire their head coach. This seems like an easy NFL pick, but is it?

Jason’s record after Week 16: 38-52-1 ATS, 19-28-1 Totals

We were right about one thing: The Arizona Cardinals couldn’t do much worse offensively against the Seattle Seahawks with Ryan Lindley at quarterback. But what the heck happened to their defense? Seattle (–9.5 away) blew up the Cardinals 35-6 last Sunday, taking over the NFC West lead in the process. The Seahawks gained 596 total yards of offense – a franchise record. Many butts were kicked.


The Cardinals (11-4 SU, 10-5 ATS) had already clinched a playoff spot going into Week 16. Even with the loss to Seattle, they can still waltz into the postseason with the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and all the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining. It’ll take some help from elsewhere, but in the meantime, Arizona needs to beat the San Francisco 49ers (7-8 SU, 6-8-1 ATS), who had their grand opening as 7-point home dogs on the Week 17 NFL odds board.

 

Desert Storm
We could try to explain the different scenarios required for the Cardinals to come out of Sunday’s game (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs – including Super Bowl XLIX, which will be played in Glendale. But it’s complicated. Earning a valuable first-round bye will take less outside help, and simply winning the NFC West even less. The takeaway: Arizona has every reason to give it the proverbial 110 percent this Sunday.

The Niners, not so much. They’ve been eliminated from the playoffs, and if the players were going to rally behind head coach Jim Harbaugh in an attempt to save his job, they might not even bother after it was widely reported that Harbaugh will be gone by Tuesday. The Michigan Wolverines are ready to scoop up their former quarterback at six years and $48 million.

 

The Wrong Side of the Tracks
That’s not the only behind-the-scenes turmoil that could sap the Niners of whatever motivation they have left. According to court documents in the Ray McDonald case, LB Aldon Smith is alleged to have been at McDonald’s home on Dec. 15, drinking with his former teammate. Smith is not allowed to consume alcohol as per his probation agreement stemming from a DUI in 2013. The former Pro Bowler denies he was drinking with McDonald.

This is a sad state of affairs for the 49ers. They’ve lost their last four games at 0-3-1 ATS, they’ve got 15 players on injured reserve, and they’ll be missing several more players on Sunday. The first-unit defense has been hit particularly hard – and this doesn’t even include McDonald’s release from the team, nor whatever might happen to Smith between now and kick-off. There just isn’t much talent left to throw at Arizona, motivated or not.

 

Insert Obligatory Logan’s Run Reference Here
When making your NFL picks this week keep in mind that Arizona will be starting raw rookie Logan Thomas at quarterback. Lindley (46.9 career passer rating) went 18-for-44 for 216 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception against Seattle, putting him No. 22 among last week’s starting quarterbacks with minus-23 Total DYAR. That’s not going to cut it.

The Cardinals think that Drew Stanton (78.7 passer rating) will be ready for the playoffs after missing last week’s game with a strained knee. But what if he isn’t? We’re all about to find out whether Thomas might be Arizona’s best back-up plan. There’s no question about his size (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) and his cannon of an arm, but Thomas has yet to display the desired mechanics and footwork of a legit starting QB. He’d better learn on his feet, because if the Cardinals defense doesn’t revert back to form after getting pancaked by Seattle, Thomas will have to do this all by himself.

Free NFL Pick: Take the Cardinals at 5Dimes

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