Other than a second-half flurry of excellence against the Raiders, now the NFL’s only 0-3 team, it’s been a pretty pedestrian start to the season for the Cardinals, amidst some uncharacteristic early struggles from Kyler Murray. The Panthers have parlayed an intriguing offseason into a rather upsetting start to the season, failing to win at home against the Browns, led by Jacoby Brissett, and then in New Jersey against the Giants before finally scraping out an ugly win over the Saints. One of these two teams will (almost certainly) move to 2-2 as they attempt to put their early season struggles behind them. Let’s look at the odds and see if we can pick which one it will be
Cardinals Vs. Panthers Betting Odds
The Panthers are a narrow home favorite in this one, checking in at -1.5. The points total is set at around 44 depending on your sportsbook, an intriguing number for two offenses that have struggled to start the year, but certainly have the potential to do much more than they have so far.
Cardinals Vs. Panthers Prediction
According to PFF, the Cardinals offense has been right around league average thus far, but their defense has been the NFL’s absolute worst. For the Panthers, it’s the exact opposite, except the offense checks in at 29th in PFF rankings rather than true rock bottom. So we’ll be “treated” to a battle between two competent units, the Arizona Offense and Carolina Defense, and the rest of the time, we’ll see one between two that are about as bad as they could be. So- which will finally show up on Sunday? The Baker Mayfield-led Panthers offense, featuring a healthy Christian McCaffrey for the first time in what feels like forever, or the arguably talented but definitely struggling Cardinals defense?
This is also a battle between two former college masterminds in the Big 12 conference, Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Rhule, who have both had a rocky start to their jumps to the NFL. There’s a ton on the line for both signal callers, as both will be coaching for their jobs, an possibly for their very NFL careers, sooner rather than later if the wins don’t start coming soon and in numbers.
Something has to give, and I think it’ll be the Panthers offense finally having a productive enough day to put points on the board. I like them to cover the modest spread and win by a field goal or better. That being said, I still see this as a more defensive game than anything, as both offenses still have a lot to iron out, and I have the under, given the number of 44.
- The home team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings between these two teams; this trend feels particularly relevant in a game with such a narrow spread
- Conversely, over their past season’s worth of games, the Panthers are a dismal 3-14 against the spread. One of these two trends is going to have to break, as the Panthers will be the hosts on Sunday
Cardinals Injuries: LB Zaven Collins (Q), DT Rashard Lawrence (Q)
Panthers Injuries: K Zane Gonzalez (Out)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Cardinals vs Panthers below.
Panthers Passing Game vs. Cardinals Secondary
For the Panthers offense, involving McCaffrey more in the passing game is an absolute must. The offensive line has been an absolute mess, and PFF has the WR group’s performance as the very worst in the league through three weeks.The Panthers need a way to alleviate the defensive pressure that Mayfield has been experiencing, and possibly eliminate some of the balls tipped at the line of scrimmage, while also relying less on a subpar wideout group. Dumping the ball off to a dynamic superstar who can make something out of nothing on even the most broken plays would certainly do the trick.
At the core of the Cardinals’ defensive struggles has been poor secondary coverage, as they’ve earned an almost-impossibly bad grade of 29.6 from PFF in this area. Safety duo Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker have been far below their usual level of effectiveness, while cornerbacks Byron Murphy and Marco Wilson have been absolute liabilities against opposing wideouts. The Panthers wideouts have been pretty awful so far, but DJ Moore and Robby Anderson are a talented enough duo to punish this Cardinals secondary if there’s no signs of improvement.
Panthers Pass Rush vs. Cardinals O-Line
While the Carolina defense has been pretty good, they’ve struggled in pressuring the quarterback. With an athlete like Kyler Murray on the other side, getting after him is all the more important, as he is just as likely to break the game open with his legs as he is with his right arm. So far, the Panthers have gotten the best pressure from non-linemen, such as linebacker Frankie Luvu and safety Jeremy Chinn.
That being said, those players only have a small amount of snaps rushing the passer; in order to have legitimate success in this hugely important arena, the Panthers will need production from their actual defensive front, currently anchored by Derrick Brown and Brian Burns. Both are solid young players, and have a lot more potential than they are showing right now.
They’ll be going up against the 7th-best line so far this year, as per PFF. They’re headlined by the tackle duo of DJ Humphries, who is having an outstanding start to the year, and Kevin Beachum, who are joined by the likes of the veteran Rodney Hudson and newcomer Will Hernandez as interior linemen. All four of these players are having varyingly strong starts to the year, and it’ll be particularly interesting to see if Burns and co. are able to generate any edge pressure against the two tackles. If not, it’ll be up to Brown to create interior pressure and disrupt Murray’s passing attack.