Kyler Murray is expected to return to the Arizona Cardinals (1-8) when they play host to the Atlanta Falcons (4-5) on Sunday (11/12/23) at 4:05 p.m. EST in Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season. The Falcons are -1.5 favorites on the road, while the over/under is set at 43 points.
This article provides Falcons vs. Cardinals analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why we’re backing the Cardinals on the moneyline as the best bet in this matchup.
Falcons vs. Cardinals Prediction & Best Bet
The obvious wild card in this matchup is what kind of impact Kyler Murray might have on the Cardinals’ offense. It’s hard to expect much from a QB making his first start in 11 months, but it would also be hard not to expect even a rusty Murray to be a big improvement from the contributions Arizona has received from its QBs so far this season.
The return of James Conner to the Cardinals’ offense could have just as big an impact. Conner was playing very well before his injury and is one of the main reasons the Cardinals’ rushing numbers this season are at least respectable (13th in both DVOA and EPA). That is just about the only statistical category where they are better than bottom 5 in the league.
We don’t want to overinflate the impact that Murray and Conner could have on the Cardinals. They are still a very weak roster from top to bottom and the front office is clearly tanking. They also could be missing two starters on the offensive line in this game. But those players’ returns (especially Murray’s) create an element of the unknown in this game and makes the Cardinals’ moneyline an intriguing bet as a home underdog.
The Cardinals are 3-1 against the spread at home this season, while the Falcons are 1-3 on the road. We love the chances for an energized Cardinals team to at least cover the spread in this game. If they do that they stand a very good chance at winning the game outright, and the value is much better on the moneyline, so that’s our best bet in this game.
Falcons vs. Cardinals Prediction & Best Bet: Cardinals win 23-21, Cardinals moneyline (+108 at FanDuel)
Falcons vs. Cardinals Best Betting Odds
This spread has fluctuated between Falcons -0.5 and -2.5 but seems to have settled in at -1.5. With such a low spread that has not approached the key number of 3, this game is essentially a pick’em. Confirmation that Kyler Murray is playing in this game could swing the line by about a point toward the Cardinals, which would be a negligible impact given where the line is sitting.
The over/under has moved up by about 1 point from its opening line and now sits at 43 points.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Falcons winning 23-21.
Falcons vs. Cardinals Key Injuries
The Cardinals have several injury concerns along the offensive line, as starting LT D.J. Humphries and RG Will Hernandez as well as reserve LG Trystan Colon are all trending toward missing this game. On the plus side, they should be getting back RB James Conner and WR Michael Wilson, and of course QB Kyler Murray, who is completely off the injury report.
For the Falcons, the injured starters to monitor are slot CB Dee Alford and WR Mack Hollins. It’s also worth noting that WR Drake London is trending towards playing after missing last week’s game with a groin injury.
Falcons vs. Cardinals Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Falcons vs. Cardinals below.
Cardinals’ offensive line vs. Falcons’ defensive front
With injuries at two starting spots along their offensive line, the Cardinals’ biggest risk in this game is getting dominated up front. The Falcons took a major blow losing Grady Jarrett for the season, but they still have a talented front seven with Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Bud Dupree and Kaden Elliss.
The Cardinals will need their offensive line to help them get their running game going with James Conner. The Falcons’ defense leads the league in EPA allowed per play against the run and they are 9th in both DVOA and success rate.
The Falcons are also 4th in the league in pressure rate despite being below the league average in blitz rate. The defensive line is excellent at creating pressure on its own, although they have only converted it into 19 sacks (22nd). Kyler Murray’s mobility should help if his OL struggles in pass protection, but that mobility also could be limited in his first game back from a knee injury.
Bijan Robinson vs. play calling
Much has been made of the Falcons’ misuse of their star running back whom they selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2023 draft. Bijan Robinson has only 25 touches in the last three games. Tyler Allgeier has 26 red zone touches this season compared to Robinson’s 12. Coach Arthur Smith has zero explanation for this usage (despite spending 5 minutes answering a question about it).
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 8, 2023
We said above that Kyler Murray’s return is the biggest wild card in this game, but it also could be Robinson’s return to relevance if the Falcons wise up and start giving him the ball.