Chargers vs. Cardinals Betting Guide: How to Play Kyler Murray’s Preseason Debut

Chargers vs. Cardinals Betting Guide: How to Play Kyler Murray’s Preseason Debut article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kyler Murray

Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Betting Odds

  • Spread: Cardinals -2.5
  • Over/Under: 36.5
  • Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET

The Cardinals host the Chargers in one of 11 Preseason Week 1 matchups on Thursday night. Let’s take a look at key storylines for both teams, complete with betting and daily fantasy analysis.

Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Gordon’s absence isn’t the end of the world for the Chargers, as former undrafted free agent Austin Ekeler has emerged as anyone’s idea of an incredibly promising running back prospect.

The 5-foot-9, 199-pound running back has solid speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash) and receiving ability for the position, but he hadn’t exactly faced a fearsome level of competition at Western Colorado University.

All Ekeler has done with his NFL opportunity is work as one of the league’s most efficient overall backs.

Austin Ekeler since entering the league in 2017:

Yards per rush: 5.3 (No. 3 among 60 RBs with 150+ rushes)
Yards per target: 7.8 (No. 3 among 55 RBs with 50+ targets)
Yards per touch: 6.8 (No. 2 among 62 RBs with 200+ touches)

Snap % in three games without MGIII: 78%, 68%, 95%

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 20, 2019

Unfortunately, Ekeler and Co. will be competing without their fearless leader Philip Rivers under center. He’s fully expected to rest.

Arizona Cardinals

New head coach Kliff Kingsbury will attempt to install the NFL’s first fully-functioning Air Raid offense. His system was incredibly productive at Texas Tech, especially in 2015 and 2016 with Patrick Mahomes leading the way.

Texas Tech’s Points Per Game with Kliff Kingsbury

  • 2018: 37.3 (16th)
  • 2017: 34.3 (23rd)
  • 2016: 43.7 (fifth)
  • 2015: 45.1 (second)
  • 2014: 30.5 (54th)
  • 2013: 35.8 (24th)

Kingsbury has handpicked Kyler Murray as the quarterback to lead the Air Raid revolution. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner set the NCAA record for passing efficiency in a season by averaging 10.4 yards per attempt. He also demonstrated an incredibly fantasy-friendly ability to dice defenses up on the ground and down the field.

It remains to be seen if Kingsbury will be able to make a successful NFL transition, but the parallels between the 2019 Cardinals and 2017 Rams during Sean McVay’s first season in Los Angeles are tough to ignore. Texas Tech led the FBS in snaps per game during Kingsbury’s six years as head coach (per Evan Silva), which should help the chances of the team’s still-growing offensive line to slow down opposing pass rushes.

I lean toward Cardinals -2.5 in the hopes that even a mundane version of their unique offense can prove to be problematic in an otherwise bland preseason setting.

LEAN: Cardinals -2.5

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