NFL Betting Preview by Jay of BangTheBook.com
Indianapolis Colts (2-0) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Sunday September 27th, 8:20PM Eastern
Bookmaker betting line – Arizona -2.5, 48.5 O/U
Sunday night football hosts a battle between two potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks this weekend when the Indianapolis Colts take on the Arizona Cardinals. Peyton Manning is sure to be a lock for the Hall of Fame as he currently sits seventh on the all time passing yards list while also ranking in the top five in both passing completions and touchdowns.
On the other side of the field, Kurt Warner could very well be a future Hall of Fame candidate especially after his 2008 re-emergence. Warner who is also a former Super Bowl winning quarterback and Super Bowl MVP like Manning, has posted over 29,000 yards and owns a 65% completion percentage during his luxurious tenure in the league.
These two quarterbacks seem to always find ways to win and they will be leading two of the better passing offenses in the NFL into a dogfight this Sunday night.
The Cardinals lost surprising to San Francisco in their opener before bouncing back last week against Jacksonville with a 31-17 victory. Despite two interceptions, Warner is completing 70% on the season and 265 yards per game in just two starts.
The Cardinals offense is undoubtedly the strength of the team with Warner behind center and huge targets on the outside with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston. All three receivers racked up over 1,000 yards in 2008.
However, early in the season running back Tim Hightower leads the team in receiving with 133 yards on 15 catches. Hightower has struggled in the running game which should not be a surprise considering Arizona rushing game ranked dead last in the NFL in 2008.
The Cardinals have ranked in the bottom five in NFL rushing attacks each year dating back to the 2004 season. Rookie tailback Beanie Wells will likely get a good dose of carries this week. Wells has carried the ball just 14 times this year and has fumbled on two of those carries.
If Wells can hold onto the ball, he gives the Arizona offense the explosion factor they need in the backfield. Still, the running game is likely going to be a work in progress. If there are no major changes this Sunday, Warner and the passing game will have to battle with one of the best passing defenses in the NFL.
The Colts ranked sixth in the NFL in 2008 allowing just 188 yards per game and actually lead the NFL after two games allowing just 139 yards per game through the air. Therefore, things are to get tougher for the reigning NFC Champions as they try to avoid dropping to 1-2.
Indianapolis appear to match-up well against the Cardinals Sunday night. The Colts have been subject to giving up yards on the ground which should entice Arizona to run the ball.
However, given the Cardinals success on the ground it may not be too much of a worry. The Colts pass defense is a stout unit and if they avoid big plays then it will give Manning and the offense the opportunity to manufacture touchdowns.
Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne is the big target on the outside who is trying to pick up the slack from the loss of Marvin Harrison. Wayne had 10 catches for 162 yards in the opener before suffering a bit of a letdown last week against Miami.
Tight End Dallas Clark may not possess the down field threat as Wayne, but is equally dangerous. Clark actually leads the team with 222 reception yards while averaging over 20 yards a catch. Clark had a career high 848 yards last year for the Colts and could very well improve those numbers if the focus remains on Wayne.
As for the Indianapolis rushing game, it is in the same boat as Arizona. Running back Joseph Addai has failed to produce, but there is hope for rookie Donald Brown. Still, the current status of the running game remains critical to say the least. If the Colts are to have success, it will ride on Manning and the wide outs as well as the play of the defense.
NFL Pick of the week – There could be less scoring here, but either way Colts should win the game. Take Indianapolis +2.5