The Arizona Cardinals off their NFC Wildcard victory over the Green Bay Packers will travel in an NFC Divisional NFL playoff game on Saturday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints. This NFL pro football playoff game is scheduled to kick off in New Orleans at 4:30PM Eastern Time with national television coverage provided by Fox.
The LVSC NFL odds makers have set the opening point spread in this game and the New Orleans Saints were opened as a 7 point favorite with the over under coming in at 57 ½.
The early money from the NFL betting public has come in on the home team, as the New Orleans Saints are currently a 7-½ point betting favorite. The total has seen early movement from the NFL bettors towards the under, as the over under is currently lined at 57 to play into.
NFL money line gamblers can make a play on the favored New Orleans Saints at –300 with the road underdog Arizona Cardinals bringing back +250 to win without the need of getting the points on their side.
The New Orleans Saints earned a bye week last week and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs off their 13-3 record. The Saints enter the playoffs with three straight losses with two of those in meaningful home games. The Saints explosive offense has struggled down the stretch with just 17 points scored against both the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their two straight home losses.
Veteran Saints quarterback Drew Brees had another successful season hitting on over 70% of his passes with 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. But during the teams recent struggles it has been Brees with only 2 touchdown passes in his past two games which resulted in losses. The Saints offensive line has protected Brees this season as the nine-year veteran has only been sacked 20 times in 15 games.
The Saints got good production from their running game. Pierre Thomas is the leading ball carrier with 147 carries for 793 yards six touchdowns and a very good 5.4 yards per carry average. It has been reported that Thomas has three broken ribs and is expected to play through his injury. Mike Bell has seen 172 carries this season with a 3.8 yards a carry average. Bells production has tanked in recent games, as the four-year back has produced no more than 2.1 yards per rush attempt over his past 4 games. Reggie Bush is a huge weapon for the Saints. He is not only a threat carrying the ball, but in space in the passing game is explosive. Bush averaged 5.6 yards per rush attempt this season. He contributed with 47 catches with 7.1 yards per catch average and three touchdowns.
Defensively the Saints improved a bit over last season as the team allows over 21 points per game. They have been hit hard with injuries to their secondary and it has shown in the stat sheet as the team has given up chunks of passing yardage down the stretch. The Saints have allowed nearly 400 yards per game in four of their past 5 games. They have dropped to 24th in the NFL in pass defense allowing 235 yards per game.
The Arizona Cardinals survived their NFC wildcard playoff game last week with the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals defeated the hot Packers 51-45 in overtime. The Cardinals torched a very good Green Bay defense for 156 yards rushing and 375 through the air. But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for 403 yards passing lighted up the Cardinals defense.
The Arizona Cardinals were opened as a favorite last week but closed as a three-point underdog because many of the Las Vegas wise guys had pegged the Green Bay Packers their favorite to make the Super Bowl.
Kurt Warner has been a moneymaker for bettors in the postseason and once again in the playoffs he performed like the Hall of Fame quarterback he is. You can see in the postseason how Warner greatly increases his intensity level as he will call out his offensive players for mistakes and is just as critical during practices leading up playoff games. Warner was on fire against the outstanding Packers secondary hitting on 29 of 33 for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns. Warner spreads the ball out very well and the Packers had problems in coverage all game long. Warner is 9-3 straight up in the playoffs. Warner had plenty of time to throw last week as his offensive line did a good job in protection. Warner has been sacked 24 times this season.
The Arizona Cardinals are better than their Super Bowl team from last season because of the growth of their running game. The play of rookie running back Beanie Wells has been outstanding. Wells carried the ball 176 times this season for a 4.5 yards a carry average. He ran against the second best run defense in the NFC last week and produced 91 yards on 14 carries. Second year back Tim Hightower produced a 4.2 yards a carry average this season. Hightower is a threat out of the backfield in the passing game and is a better pass blocker in pass protection. Even third string back LaRod Stephens-Howlings got in the act with an 18 yard run in his only carry last week and 3 catches for 19 yards out of the backfield.
At issue on Saturday will be the play of the Arizona Cardinals defense. They did not play very well last week and are fortunate to be bailed out by their offense. The unit did force three critical turnovers that led to three touchdowns last week and they beat the Packers on a fumble returned for a touchdown. The Cardinals blew a 21-point lead last week as the Packers forced overtime. The Cardinals allow a bit more than 21 points per game this season. They have struggled against the pass this season ranking 28th in the NFL allowing 243 yards through the air per game.
NFL Trend: Arizona Cardinals are 6-0 ATS this season as an underdog