Cardinals vs. Panthers Betting Guide: Odds & A Spread Pick For This Week 4 Showdown
MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyler Murray
- Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are 3-point road favorites for this Week 4 showdown against the Carolina Panthers.
- Our NFL betting analyst Brandon Anderson explains why there's value on the Cardinals to cover this spread on Sunday.
Cardinals vs. Panthers Odds
The Cardinals and Panthers are two teams headed in the right direction for the long haul.
Carolina dumped its entire coaching staff after last season and started over with head coach Matt Rhule, and Arizona did the same thing a year ago with Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals also had the luxury of drafting Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in 2019.
Both teams have bright futures with their young play-callers and college-style spread offenses, but the Cardinals have the better outlook for 2020. Unfortunately, both offenses could be missing their key playmaker — Christian McCaffrey is out for Carolina while DeAndre Hopkins is questionable for Arizona.
Lucky for the Cards, that’s not the side of the ball on which they’ve thrived this season.
The Cardinals were a popular sleeper team entering 2020 with Murray entering his second season and the addition of the All-Pro Hopkins from the Texans. Hopkins was expected to give Murray a go-to weapon, and Hopkins has looked the part through three games.
This week against Carolina, though, Hopkins is considered questionable due to an ankle injury and Kingsbury said he will be a game-time decision.
Hopkins enters Week 4 with 32 catches for 356 yards and a touchdown. He’s had instant chemistry with Murray, who has been incredible on his own with a handful of highlight-reel runs. But for all the numbers and flashy plays, the 2-1 Cardinals’ offense actually hasn’t been very good. They’re not creating long, sustained drives and have been too dependent on their playmakers to make something out of nothing.
The real surprise for Arizona has been its defense.
In many ways, the Cardinals and Panthers were expected to be mirror images of one another this season, with both featuring fun offenses with dumpster-fire defenses. But the Cardinals have won with defense so far, with the No. 7 defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The offense, however, ranks 24th in the NFL.
The Cardinals’ stars may be on offense, but they have been winning in spite of that unit so far in 2020.
The Panthers started the year 0-2 to the surprise of few.
This is a rebuilding team, and Carolina’s season took a turn for the worse when McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2. He was responsible for nearly half the touches in this offense, and Rhule built his entire attack around his running back’s unique talent as a dual-threat runner and pass catcher.
Then the Panthers pulled off a surprising win on the road against the Chargers in Week 3, and suddenly the Panthers getting some respect with this line. But while it’s nice to get that first win, it wasn’t necessarily a breakout moment for Rhule’s Panthers: They won against rookie Justin Herbert, who was making just his second career start, and the Chargers generally play to the level of their opposition.
Carolina’s offense hasn’t collapsed without McCaffrey, but it hasn’t been great, either. QuarterbackTeddy Bridgewater is holding his own with a couple nice weapons at wide receiver in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.
Carolina’s main problem as a team is not McCaffrey’s absence, though. In 2020, the Panthers became the first team in NFL history to use every draft pick on one side of the ball, with a focus on remaking its defense after linebacker Luke Kuechly’s retirement. They have a long way to go.
The Panthers have one of the worst defenses in the league, and they rank 30th so far this season in defensive DVOA.
This could be a get-right game for the Cardinals’ offense, especially if Hopkins is active, against a bad Carolina defense. The Panthers don’t have anyone who can keep up with Hopkins and the other Cardinals receivers in coverage, and the Carolina defense may struggle to contain the mobile Murray.
A week ago, Arizona would have been favored by a touchdown in this matchup. Then the Cardinals had a letdown loss to Detroit while the Panthers beat the Chargers. Suddenly, this line settled in around a field goal.
Bettors need to take advantage of that recency bias. Flip the schedule around — put those Week 3 results back to their season openers and give the Panthers two losses in a row while the Cards dominate Washington and win in San Francisco against a healthy 49ers team — and Arizona would be seen as a sizable favorite here. The Cardinals should be.
I love Arizona to bounce back in this spot against a Carolina defense that has little chance against them when things are clicking. I’m not sure about the game over, because Arizona’s defense could hold a limited Carolina offense missing McCaffrey, but the Cardinals’ team over looks tasty if Hopkins is a go.
Keep an eye on the injury news. Hopkins is a big enough name that his presence or absence could move the line, and at -3, a half point is huge. Still, the Cardinals are the better team with or without Hopkins.
I’ll grab the lowest line I can find (you can shop for the best real-time lines here), but will play to -4 even without Hopkins.
Pick: Cardinals -3