It isn’t often that there’s excitement for a home game of a 1-8 team. Usually, fans arrive at those types of games with paper bags to wear over their heads. But it’s a little different for the Arizona Cardinals, who will turn the ball over to Kyler Murray for the first time since Dec. 12, 2022. Regardless of how you fell about Murray returning and whether the Cardinals are better off letting him sit, having him back is a huge lift for Arizona. The Cardinals were dreadful last week and Murray’s return should provide a boost to the morale of the team. Still, the Falcons vs Cardinals lines see Atlanta favored by 2 (-110) points, and the total is 43.5 points.
Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Line: Atlanta -1.5 (-115)
Falcons Falling Fast in NFC South
It’s the proverbial “news news, bad news” situation for the Atlanta Falcons. The bad news is Atlanta isn’t playing well right now, dropping three of its last four NFL games to fall to 4-5 on the season. The good news is nobody else in the division is playing great. So the Falcons are in second place, just one game behind New Orleans. But the Falcons need to rebound from a tough loss to the Vikings last week.
Atlanta averages 18.4 points per game and are pretty even in stats with what their opponents have allowed. The Falcons have been their own worst enemy at times, sitting at -7 in turnovers for the NFL season. Atlanta doesn’t really have a strong suit as it pertains to offense. But it isn’t awful in any one area, either.
The Falcons haven’t been bad defensively, allowing 21.3 points to NFL teams scoring 21.3 points. Atlanta is pretty solid against the run and not bad at all defending the pass. The offensive turnovers haven’t helped the defense, which has been left with some short field to defend.
Arizona Coming Off Pathetic Showing
When the Cardinals traded Josh Dobbs to the Minnesota Vikings, they knew there would be a glaring hole at quarterback. It was a little bigger than they thought, as Clayton Tune became the first rookie quarterback to shutout in his debut since 2014. The Cardinals managed just 58 total yards, their worst effort in more than 60 years. If the team didn’t look so bad, Murray could have sat on the sidelines another week.
What the Cardinals have done so far offensively this season doesn’t really matter, as Dobbs is gone, and Tune likely won’t see much action the rest of the season. The Cardinals will try to run the ball a little bit to keep Murray from being in obvious passing downs consistently.
The Arizona defense has had more bad games than good ones. The Cardinals allow 26.7 points per game to teams averaging 21.9 points. Arizona doesn’t defend the run or the pass that well, although the run defense may be the better of the two.
What to Expect
The Falcons are in a bit of an unfamiliar role as a road favorite. The NFL current lines are showing Atlanta -1.5 (-115) and -130 on the moneyline. The odds calculator has 1.5-point favorites at -115 as -134 moneyline favorites, so the number is right there. But Atlanta is just 1-4 ATS as a road favorite since 2019, which makes you pause before putting them in your NFL picks and parlays.
Atlanta is unlikely to do anything different for this game. The Falcons use a decent mixture of running and passing plays, and that shouldn’t change here.
The Cardinals do need to run the ball a little bit to take pressure off Murray. Arizona doesn’t want him in a position to have to throw every down. The Cardinals aren’t going to change the playbook much for Murray and will likely have a few designed running plays for him. That’s risky, but you have to let Murray play like Murray.
Who to Bet On?
The Falcons vs Cardinals lines of Atlanta -2 appears to be a bit on the low side. Sure, Murray is back and the NFL is still a team sport. The Falcons have the best roster of the two teams, so it’s easier to make a case for Atlanta than it is for Arizona.
The Falcons vs Cardinals lines on the total is a good number. Murray’s return will force it up a couple of points and the Falcons are coming off a pair of high-scoring contests.
This isn’t an easy game to call, but the Falcons have been the better team throughout the season and Atlanta is the side to back in this one.