The Saints are coming off another loss, a four-point one at home against Cincinnati, which has dropped them to 2-4. Meanwhile, Arizona looked uninspiring in its last game, a 19-9 loss in Seattle. The Cardinals are likewise 2-4.
For reasons that I will explain, you should play both spread and total for this game.
New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals
Thursday, October 20, 2022 – 08:15 PM EDT at State Farm Stadium
Currently, Arizona is favored slightly for this Thursday against New Orleans.
The Cardinals might seem like a bad team to back as a favorite because one wants to back a favorite whose capable of scoring enough points to cover the spread. Arizona, though, ranks 22nd in averaging 19 points per game.
However, I like the Cardinals to cover the spread this week because a decisively important change is taking place in their favor that will put an end to their offensive troubles.
Namely, star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is eligible to return from his suspension.
Life Without Hopkins
Last year, the Cardinals were soaring at 10-3, but then they missed Hopkins in their last five games, including their one playoff game. Whereas they averaged 30.2 points when Hopkins played, they mustered 18.8 without him.
Their inability to score as many points was sustained by their general struggles moving the ball downfield. They struggled, without Hopkins, to sustain drives. Hence, the rate at which Kyler Murray accrued passing touchdowns plummeted in Hopkins' absence.
Even when Arizona did enter the red zone, Murray missed his big, athletic target in the end zone and accordingly struggled to achieve a level of scoring efficiency similar in its respectability to that which Arizona enjoyed with Hopkins present. Likewise, Murray failed to be as efficient in general.
Plenty has been made of Murray, this year, having the worst season of his career, but Murray's struggles will vanish with his favorite target returning to the lineup.
Saints' Pass Defense
But doesn't New Orleans boast a formidable pass defense, one spearheaded by a well-reputed cornerback, Marshon Lattimore? Top wide receivers do repeatedly thrive against the Saint defense, however.
In most recent weeks, Justin Jefferson amassed 147 receiving yards on 10 receptions for the Vikings in their win over New Orleans. Tyler Lockett, for Seattle, had his best game of the season against the Saints, accruing six receptions, 104 yards, and two touchdowns.
Last Sunday, Ja'Marr Chase accumulated seven receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns in Cincinnati's win in New Orleans. Jefferson excelled when Lattimore was covering him, but, as did Lockett and Chase, opposing top wide receivers often avoid Lattimore.
As Lattimore was against the Bengals, several key Saints players are banged up.
Lattimore is listed as 'questionable' for Thursday's game with an abdomen injury, as well as top wide receivers:
- Chris Olave
- Jarvis Landry
- Michael Thomas
All four players missed their team's last game, against the Bengals, after failing to practice.
Jameis Winston's Outlook
Jameis Winston suited up but did not play against the Bengals. He could return, although I'm not sure that Winston's return forms a particularly good piece of good news.
The ever-interception-prone quarterback played well against Atlanta's 31st-ranked pass defense but threw for a combined total of 5 interceptions to 2 touchdowns in his 2 other games (against Tampa Bay and Carolina).
Alvin Kamara's Outlook
Given New Orleans' plethora of injuries in what is, even with Winston, already an unsteady pass attack, running back Alvin Kamara will really need to go off against the Cardinal defense, but Arizona's run defense has been stout enough, managing, for example, to limit star running back Christian McCaffrey to his lowest rushing total of the season, 27 yards.
For run-friendly Philadelphia, Miles Sanders suffered his second-least productive outing of his season against Arizona.
Overall, the Cardinals rank seventh at limiting opposing rushing yards.
The Final Verdict
With your NFL picks in mind, expect Arizona's offense to be reinvigorated by Hopkins' return. He and Murray will flourish against a repeatedly vulnerable Saint pass attack.
Meanwhile, New Orleans' offense is held back by a beleaguered and in many ways problematic pass attack that won't enjoy sufficient support from a ground game that will be held in check by Arizona's run defense.
The Cardinal offense will do the most to send this game over the posted total while the Saints pass attack will field enough playmakers (especially Alvin Kamara, who is a dangerous pass-catcher) to contribute.
For the above reasons, expect a strong Arizona to win a high-scoring affair.
NFL Pick: Cardinals -1.5 (-110) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.