Cardinals vs. Patriots Odds & Picks: How To Bet Kyler Murray vs. Cam Newton
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyler Murray
Cardinals vs. Patriots Odds
In just his second season, Kyler Murray has emerged as one of the NFL’s best dual-threat quarterbacks.
Although his MVP chances likely went up in smoke with the Week 11 loss to the NFC West rival Seahawks, Murray has led the Cardinals to a 6-4 record, putting them in the mix for both a playoff spot and division title.
On Sunday, the Cardinals head on the road to take on 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton and the 4-6 Patriots, who are coming off a 27-20 loss to Houston and find themselves on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff picture.
With these teams headed in opposite directions, oddsmakers opened the Cardinals as 2.5-point road favorites before news of an injury to Murray’s throwing shoulder brought the side down before settling at -2.
Let’s find out where the betting value lies.
Murray’s dual-threat ability has made the Cardinals’ offense extremely difficult to defend, as they lead the NFL with 414.3 yards per game and 28.7 points per game, eighth in the league.
The Cardinals also rank fourth in early down success rate and eighth in total success rate (per Sharp Football Stats). Murray has passed for 2,531 yards with 19 touchdowns while rushing for 619 yards and another 10 touchdowns — he’s now on pace to break Cam Newton’s record for single-season rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14 in 2011).
This Murray-led Cardinals offense has much in common with the Chiefs, Seahawks, Bills and Texans — teams with running quarterbacks who torched the Patriots with explosive plays. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Murray suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder last week.
Although Murray passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks last week and was a full participant in Friday’s practice, there are question marks about how this injury will impact him going forward: Will his arm strength be there? Can the Cardinals stretch the field? Will he able to complete all the throws? What are his limitations going forward?
These answers remains to be seen, and his injury is not the only issue the Cardinals offense is dealing with.: Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday, while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and tight end Maxx Williams missed time in practice this week due to illness. Both Hopkins and Williams are expected to play, but with Murray’s injury, we should expect the Cardinals to go run-heavy.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, they’re second in the league in rushing yards per game (157.7), first in yards per carry (5.2), third in rushing success rate (56%), and second in explosive run rate with 16% of their rushing plays going for 20 or more yards.
Arizona also leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 16. Dealing with Murray is tough enough for most defenses, as he’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry, but Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds aren’t slouches — they’re averaging 4.4 and 4.9 yards per carry, respectively.
The Cardinals actually have the league’s eighth-highest run-to-pass ratio at 45% run vs. 55% pass. Nonetheless, they should have their way on the ground against a Patriots defense that struggles to stop the run.
The Cardinals are 12th in defensive efficiency, but they suffered cluster injuries to their defensive line and placed defensive tackle Corey Peters and defensive end Jordan Phillips on IR heading into Week 11. This doesn’t bode well for a unit that gives up the 10th-most rushing yards per game (124.7) and the ninth-most yards per carry (4.6), and they could have their hands full against a run-heavy Patriots offense — New England is 21st in rushing success rate and 26th in explosive run rate.
Arizona’s pass defense is league-average, but the Cardinals do rank 12th in sacks (25) and pressure rate (23.8%). With All-Pro safety Budda Baker and cornerback Patrick Peterson on the back end, they shouldn’t have much trouble stopping this Patriots passing attack — especially after holding Russell Wilson to just 197 yards a week ago.
New England Patriots
Newton is coming off one of his best games of the season, passing for 365 yards and one touchdown with a 102.6 quarterback rating last week.
It seems he’s developed chemistry with Damiere Byrd, who caught 6-of-7 targets for 132 yards and a touchdown, but that could have been a product of facing a Texans defense that gives up 254.8 passing yards per game and ranks 24th in defensive pass efficiency.
Last week’s performance appears to be an aberration for an offense that ranks just 24th passing efficiency and third in rushing efficiency. For good reason, the Patriots are a run-first offense, and they have the third highest run/pass ratio in the league (51% run vs. 49% pass) while ranking fifth in rushing success rate and 18th in passing success rate. Now they’ll square off against a Cardinals defense that’s just 21st in rushing success rate, giving up 4.6 yards per carry.
The Patriots offensive line will take a step back without starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who suffered a knee injury last week. Without Wynn, the Patriots will use their sixth starting offensive line combination this season. This isn’t good news for a unit that doesn’t have many receiving threats and relies on running the ball.
Defensive losses via free agency and COVID-19 opt-outs have come back to bite New England all season long, as the Patriots rank just 32nd in defensive efficiency (31st against the pass and 28th against the run). Although they’ve given up only 23.8 points per game, that’s primarily a product of their defensive pace, which is the slowest in the NFL.
The Patriots face the highest run/pass ratio in the league, at 49% run vs. 51% pass, and they are giving up 121.8 yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry while allowing a 54% success rate — 23rd in the NFL. Between their offense and defense, Patriots games simply have more runs than any other.
New England’s pass defense is also dead-last in passing success rate (55%) and explosive pass play rate with 12% of all pass plays going for 20 or more yards.
The defense has particularly struggled with running quarterbacks this season. Here are some of the numbers running quarterbacks have put up on the Patriots:
- Russell Wilson: 288 yards; 5 TDs; 5 rushes for 39 yards
- Patrick Mahomes: 236 yards; 2 TDs; 8 rushes for 28 yards
- Deshaun Watson: 344 yards; 2 TDs; 6 rushes for 36 yards and 1 TD
Although they held Josh Allen to just 11-for-18 for 154 yards and 10 carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, this was primarily influenced by 17 mph winds in Buffalo.
The Patriots’ defensive performance against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens was also aided by rain. With forecasts for Sunday projecting clear conditions in New England, this defense might be in for a long day.
From a pure numbers perspective, there appears to be value on the Cardinals, as my projections make this game -2.5. I also think the Patriots should have trouble stopping Murray and the Cardinals offense under normal circumstances. However, with the uncertainty surrounding Murray’s shoulder injury, that’s enough to keep me off the side in this matchup.
For me, the value in this game lies in the total.
The Cardinals play at the second-fastest pace in the NFL at 25.06 seconds snap-to-snap, but surprisingly, they’re 7-3 to the under and it it took a Hail Mary in their win over the Bills for that game to go over.
New England, on the other hand, plays at the 21st-ranked pace at 27.95 seconds snap-to-snap and the Patriots don’t have a high-flying explosive offense. They put up more than 23 points only three times this season: Against the Seahawks, Raiders and Jets who rank 23rd, 24th and 27th in defensive efficiency, respectively.
Against the Texans, who rank 29th in defensive efficiency, the Patriots scored just 20 points.
With the Cardinals and Patriots ranking in the top 10 in run/pass ratio and struggling to stop the run, I expect a run-heavy game plan from both.
When you consider Murray’s shoulder injury, the Patriots missing their left tackle and their tendency to slow the game down due to an anemic pass offense, I like this game to go under.
PICK: Under 49 (no further)