Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Commanders Preview (9/10/22): Betting Odds, Prediction, Depth Chart
Every offseason, whether consciously or subconsciously, fans and analysts build preconceived notions of which teams they think is going to have a good or bad season. And every season, a team or two shatters those projections, and overperforms the expectations set for them by just about everyone. The Cardinals and Commanders are two teams who will hope to fall into that group, as not many pundits expect much from them, but they might have something to say about that. Let’s take a look at the odds for this opening day matchup, where my prediction is for the Commanders to cover a 7 point spread and the under to hit at 38 points.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Commanders Prediction
After an 11-6 season in 2021, things couldn’t have gone any worse for the 2022 Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray signed an enormous contract over the offseason after a contentious negotiation process, and drama immediately ensued when the clause requiring Murray to study film for four hours per week became public knowledge. Some saw the inclusion as offensive, some saw it as an alarmingly low threshold to need to be enforced; either way, it was a negative for the relationship between the quarterback and club.
To make matters worse, Murray tore his ACL late in the season, ending his campaign, and leaving him injured and inactive to this day. Of course with the team in full “Capitulate for Caleb” mode, executing one of the most blatant tanks in recent memory, it’s hard to know whether he’s physically able to return to the field, or if he’s just being held out to help the team lose games. The Cardinals haven’t officially named a starting QB for opening day, as they cut Colt McCoy, who might have come dangerously close to winning some games. They are currently deciding between Clayton Tune and Josh Dobbs, with many believing that Dobbs will start due to concerns that much like McCoy, the fifth round rookie out of Houston might pose a threat to team interests.
They’ll be going up against a Commanders team that has quietly built up a nice roster, and might have more upside than many might think. They have a mountain to climb in arguably the toughest division in football, and surely the most challenging in the NFC, but this team has some serious talent on the books. The receiving trio of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel is well above league average, and the running back pairing of Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson offers some nice balance. The defense was the third best in the league last year by yardage, and seventh by scoring. After going 8-8-1 last year, capped off with a win for QB Sam Howell in his league debut, there’s reason to believe that this could be a competitive team this season.
There is no such belief surrounding the Cardinals, nor would they want there to be. The spread of seven points is abnormal for a team of Washington’s pedigree, but Arizona is an abnormally bad squad, and while picking a side of that line isn’t an easy call, that’s a sign that it’s an appropriate number. I’ll take Washington’s side as they take the field in front of a sold out crowd, ready to usher in a new era of ownership. This is not my bet of the week by any measure, but it’s impossible to invest in Arizona right now. As for the total, the under is the only play, with Arizona actively hamstringing their offense, and a lot of question marks as to Howell’s abilities as a starter at this level.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Commanders Betting Odds
The Commanders are seven point home favorites, and the points total is set at 38, with both sides of each line set at -110 odds.
Arizona Cardinals Injuries: Kyler Murray (O), Marquise Brown (Q), Zach Ertz (Q)
Washington Commanders Injuries: Chase Young (Q), Terry McLaurin (Q)
Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Commanders Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Commanders below.
Cardinals Offensive Line vs. Commanders Defensive Front
If there’s a strength for this Cardinals offense before Murray returns, it’s probably their offensive line. Interestingly enough, tackled D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum, as well as guard Will Hernandez, all put up PFF pass blocking grades over 76, highlighted by Humphries’s 80.5, but all had run blocking grades in the high 50s or low 60s. Conversely, tackle Josh Jones was solid in both aspects of the job; we’ll see how the position is handled with prized draft pick Paris Johnson entering the equation.
Chase Young’s health is a big question mark for Washington, and having him on the field and performing up to ability would be a huge boost for the team, but even with him out, there’s a good amount of talent across the d-line. Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen both graded well in PFF’s system, and the pair combined for 15.5 sacks, split as evenly as possible with the edge rusher Sweat just edging out Allen, a d-tackle, by half a sack.
Commanders Pass Catchers vs. Cardinals Secondary
One of Washington’s greatest strengths, especially on the offensive side of the ball, is their group of pass catchers, headlined by Terry McLaurin, who is coming off of his third consecutive thousand-yard season after racking up 919 as a rookie in just 14 games. Fellow Buckeye Curtis Samuel has contributed nicely as a slot receiver, with 64 catches at over 10 yards apiece ast season. Finally, Jahan Dotson gained solid footing towards the end of his rookie season, racking up over 70 yards in three of his last four games.
To stay in this game, Arizona’s secondary will have to slow down these receivers and force Howell into some tougher throws. Safety Budda Baker will be a leader in this unit, while rookie Kei’Trel Clark and veteran Antonio Hamilton Sr. have both had a strong preseason at cornerback. Countering the Washington wideouts will be an uphill battle for this group, and it will take their best effort to keep this one close.