TNF best bets: Cardinals aim for 8-0 vs. depleted Packers
A once mouthwatering Thursday night showdown has since been downgraded a bit due to the Packers' COVID-19 issues, but it's still a big step up from what we've been treated to the past couple of Thursdays.
Green Bay will be shorthanded as it attempts to knock off the league's lone remaining undefeated team, while the Cardinals will aim to move to 8-0 and keep setting the pace in the NFC.
Here's how we're betting Packers-Cardinals:
C Jackson Cowart: Rodgers over 254.5 passing yards
When news broke that Davante Adams will likely miss Thursday's contest, it felt like the entire betting market shifted as far as it could against this Packers offense. Are we sure that's the right play?
Over the last two seasons, Aaron Rodgers has averaged nearly 65 more passing yards without Adams and posted a 6-0 record. The reigning MVP has thrown for at least 283 yards in each of his last five games without Adams and is in a favorable spot against a Cardinals secondary that's benefitted from a mostly pedestrian slate of quarterbacks.
The Packers are also hopeful Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who's missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, will return Thursday. Rodgers threw for 255 and 261 yards, respectively, in his last two games when MVS was active. Even with Adams shelved, this number is too low to ignore.
Alex Moretto: Cardinals over 29.5 points (-115)
Your first thought may be why I elected to go with the Cardinals' team total, as opposed to betting Arizona -6.5 or over 50.5. Well, I like to eliminate as many variables as possible when betting, and I'm not entirely sure what to expect of this depleted Green Bay offense with Rodgers under center.
Adams is a huge loss - assuming he's officially ruled out before kickoff - and it amplifies the absence of Allen Lazard, but we've seen Rodgers do a lot more with a lot less. A depleted receiving core is enough to push me away from the Packers, but it's not enough for me to fade them entirely. Rodgers pulled James Jones off the street in 2015 - hoodie and all - and turned him into the team's leading receiver. I'm not willing to bet he can't do the same with MVS, Randall Cobb, and Robert Tonyan.
What I am willing to bet on is the Cardinals' offense winning their matchup against Green Bay's defense. This is by far the Packers' toughest test of the season, having faced just one offense inside the top half of the league in yards per play thus far and only two inside the top 20. Despite the cake schedule, Green Bay's defensive metrics are uninspiring. The Packers have been gashed by the run and are dealing with a barrage of injuries as they get set to face a fully healthy Cardinals offense that ranks near the top of the league in every important metric.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Packers finished with 31 points or 13, but what would surprise me is if they managed to hold the Cardinals under 30.
Matt Russell: Packers +6.5
Does Rodgers seem like a guy who's just going to curl up without his binky?
While Adams is the definition of reliable, his absence has created an overreaction to the point spread that we've seen over and over elsewhere this season, including three times in the last week alone. The Browns, Giants, and Raiders all got sold at a discount when injury information sent the market into a tizzy.
The Cardinals might be able to rack up the points against the Packers, but they didn't do so against the Texans last week or the 49ers in their previous home game. Arizona lit up the scoreboard in Cleveland, but it was thanks to a combination of Baker Mayfield panic turnovers, dubious drive-extending penalties, and a touchdown on a third-and-21.
We're not asking Rodgers to win this game single-handedly, only to execute enough to keep this game close. That's a good bet on any day, especially considering he's undefeated in his career with Adams out.