When the NFL schedule comes out in April, there are always plenty of marquee match ups that pop out. The first one is the Thursday night opener in which the defending Super Bowl champs are either playing one of their rivals, or whoever they beat in their conference championship game.
After we get through looking at our own favorite team’s schedule, then we find the other big match ups between the supposed “top teams”, like we have this week when the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots meet up. “Manning vs. Brady XLVIII”, “Brady vs Manning”, etc. We all figured that this would be a meeting between two of the best teams in football, and probably the division leaders of the AFC East and West. And we were right. But who would have thought that the other big time match up was going to be the Arizona Cardinals vs the Dallas Cowboys?
If you are a betting man, or woman, you can check out the latest lines for football betting at CarbonSports.ag, to see that the Patriots are a 3.5 underdog at home, and due to Tony Romo’s back injury on Monday night, there is no line at the moment for the Cowboys and Cardinals. There are a few small Las Vegas casinos that have the Cowboys as a 3.5 favorite. But, until Romo’s status is known, I would hold off on any bets.
Today Jerry Jones said that Romo is “day to day” and his availability for Sunday against the Cardinals will hinge on how he can tolerate the pain. Romo had back surgery in the off season to fix a herniated disk, but the injury sustained on Monday night is not related to that.
Speaking of injuries, the New England Patriots have been ravaged with season ending injuries. All-pro linebacker Jarod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley both suffered knee injuries that will cause them to miss the rest of the year. To make matters even worse, defensive end Chandler Jones suffered a hip injury during week seven against the New York Jets, and is in danger of missing the rest of the season as well.
As stated earlier, who would have thought that the Cowboys (6-2) and Cardinals (6-1) would have the best two records in the NFC (The Eagles are 5-2 as well)? The Cards have held six of their seven opponents to 20 points or less, with their only loss coming to the Broncos who scored 41. Maybe the most interesting part about their season so far is that Drew Stanton stepped in for the injured Carson Palmer, and kept this team rolling. When you have an offensive line that has only allowed 11 sacks through 7 games so far, that makes it pretty easy for your QB to make plays.
Speaking of offensive lines, the Dallas Cowboys o-line had been playing lights out until Monday night against the Redskins. I’m going to chalk up the poor play to a lack of adjustments by the coaching staff. Too many times the ‘Skins had more rushers than blockers and Romo was running for his life. Running back DeMarco Murray continued his assault on the NFL record books with his eighth consecutive 100-yard rushing game to start the season. Murray’s 141 yards on the ground (Along with 80 yards receiving) took his lead leading total up to 1,054, which are 288 yards more than the league’s second leading rusher Le’veon Bell.
Peyton Manning is once again leading the league in QB Rating (119.0), tied for the league lead in TD passes with Andrew Luck (22), and has only thrown 3 interceptions on the season. With wide receiver Wes Welker a shell of his former self, free agent addition Emmanuel Sanders has been a godsend for Manning. After notching a career high 67 receptions last year, Sanders is tied for eighth in the league with teammate Demaryius Thomas with 47 receptions. If those two weren’t enough for opposing defenses to worry about, ask Patriots coach Bill Belichick how he plans on stopping tight end Julius Thomas, who is tied for the league lead with 9 touchdown receptions.
Remember a few weeks ago when everyone was asking, “Is Tom Brady finished”? Ever since the Patriots were demolished week 4 on Monday Night Football by the Kansas City Chiefs, they have gone 4-0, and Brady has thrown for 1268 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Doesn’t seem like Brady is done to me.
Cardinals at Cowboys: After seeing how badly the Dallas offensive line played against the Redskins, you would have to imagine that the coaches will make the proper adjustments heading into this match up. The Cards do not have much of a pass rush with only 7 sacks on the season. The only team with less sacks are the St. Louis Rams. If the Cards cant put any pressure on Tony Romo (assuming he playing), this could be another game in which Romo uses play action for the home run. Arizona will counter the Cowboys running game with the league’s best run defense. The Cards allow a league low 3.3 yards per carry, but will have to contend with the league’s best rushing attack that rips off runs at 4.9 yards per carry.
If Romo isn’t Romo, the Cowboys could find themselves behind the 8 ball and struggling to score points. Backup QB Brandon Weeden looked pretty darn good in his few series the other night and might be the better option right now.
Cardinals 20 Cowboys 13
Broncos at Patriots
In this match up, I would normally just take whoever is the home team and call it a day. But, with all of the injuries the Patriots have had, especially on defense, I just don’t see them being able to stop Peyton Manning and that juggernaut offense. Whatever the over is, take it. You know Tom Brady is going to score points and Gronk will score touchdowns. These two running games are nearly non-existent, except that the Broncos new starting RB Ronnie Hillman, has rushed for 100 yards twice in the last three games. He’s added a different element to the Broncos ground game, especially with his speed.
Broncos 41 Patriots 34