The San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals close out Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season with a rare matchup between two teams in opposite conferences that are separated by just 300 miles in distance.
However, both teams came a long way last year from the previous season, surprising oddsmakers and bettors alike. They will each look to continue their recent success in the second game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader.
The Cards have done well in openers but poorly on Monday Night Football. The Chargers perform well as road dogs and have dominated the Cards over the years.
Monday Night Football point spread: The Cardinals opened as three-point favorites; the total was 45 (Line updates and matchup report).
Odds Shark computer prediction: 23.9-23.7 Cardinals
Why the Chargers can cover the spread
The Chargers finished last year as one of the hottest teams in the league, going 5-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS), including in the playoffs.
They pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the postseason, winning at Cincinnati, and they nearly knocked out Denver in the AFC’s divisional round, falling short in a 24-17 road loss. Regardless, San Diego still has a lot to look forward to this season under second-year head coach Mike McCoy, who did an outstanding job getting this team to overcome a tough loss in the season opener a year ago.
The Chargers blew a 28-7 lead against Houston in a 31-28 loss on MNF to start last season, and you can bet McCoy took that as a learning experience in his first game as an NFL head coach and used it the rest of the way.
Why the Cardinals can cover the spread
The Cardinals were also a surprise team last year under another first-year head coach in Bruce Arians, who led them to a 10-6 record SU and an 11-5 mark ATS in arguably the league’s toughest division.
Like San Diego, Arizona finished the regular season strong, going 7-2 SU and ATS after the bye week, but it was not enough to make the playoffs in a stacked NFC field. The Cardinals can build on that experience though and use it as motivation to take the next step this year with the goal of making the postseason.
They have gone 4-0 ATS in their last four season openers and should be ready to impress a national television audience on their home field.
These teams met in the final preseason game last Thursday, but neither of them showed off anything that could be used against them. They rested their starters in a 12-9 win for San Diego, which was really just a battle of field goals.
The stakes are much higher here in the regular season, and the Cardinals have not played well on MNF with a 1-6-1 ATS mark in their past eight appearances. Meanwhile, the Chargers have been outstanding as road underdogs lately, going 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games under that scenario and 4-1 ATS in their past five on Mondays.
San Diego has also gone 7-2 SU in its last nine meetings with Arizona. Bet the Bolts.
- The Cardinals are 5-1 ATS in their past six openers.
- The Chargers are 7-2 SU vs. the Cardinals since 1987.
- The Chargers are 8-1-1 ATS in their past 10 games as road underdogs.
- The Cardinals are 2-10 SU vs. AFC West teams since 2002.
- The Chargers are 4-1 ATS in their past five Monday night matchups.
- The Cardinals are 1-6-1 ATS on MNF since 1995.