Matchups Week 4: Cardinals at Panthers

James Conner vs. Carolina

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-2)

Opening Spread: Panthers -1

Opening Game Total: 44

Opening Team Totals: Panthers (22.5), Cardinals (21.5)

Weather: Outdoors, no current concerns

The Line Report

  • This line opened as Panthers -1.· This line has moved to Panthers -1.5 as of Friday afternoon.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Panthers -2.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Panthers -1.5.
  • This total opened at 44 points.
  • This total has moved slightly up to 44.5 points as of Friday afternoon.

Notable Injuries

Panthers: Questionable: RB Christian McCaffrey.

Cardinals: Out: WR A.J. Green, NT Rashard Lawrence; Questionable: WR Marquise Brown, WR Rondale Moore, C Rodney Hudson, Edge J.J. Watt, LB Zaven Collins.

The Panthers Offense vs. Cardinals Defense

The Panthers’ below-average offensive line faces the Cardinals’ below-average front. I’m treating this one as a relative draw in the trenches.

Notes and Observations

  • The Panthers are 1-2 against the spread this season.
  • The Panthers are 1-2 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Baker Mayfield is 29th in yards passing and 19th in yards per attempt.
  • Christian McCaffrey is fifth in yards rushing and 24th in yards receiving among running backs through the first three games.
  • If McCaffrey ends up missing this contest, D’Onta Foreman likely leads the Panthers in carries while Chubba Hubbard would take on more of McCaffrey’s passing game role.
  • Speaking of, McCaffrey’s passing game role through the first three games has been bizarrely low. He’s an exceptional route runner and one of the very best running backs in that phase.
  • Arizona has allowed the 17th-most yards rushing and the 18th-most yards receiving to running backs this year.
  • D.J. Moore (163 snaps, 84 routes run, 23.4% target share, 31.2% air yards share) and Robby Anderson (152 snaps, 84 routes run, 22.1% target share, 36.1% air yards share) have very similar roles in the Panthers’ inefficient offense.
  • The Cardinals have allowed the 18th-most yards receiving on the 14th-most receptions to wide receivers.
  • Panthers tight end Ian Thomas has five receptions for 79 yards receiving on the season.
  • Arizona has surrendered the most yards receiving on the most receptions this season.
  • Keep in mind that Arizona faced Travis Kelce and Darren Waller to start the year.

The Cardinals Offense vs. Panthers Defense

I have the Cardinals’ offensive line right on the border of average and below-average. I have the Panthers’ front four in the same type of tier. From a macro sense I view this as a relative draw in the trenches, though Panthers edge Brian Burns could present problems for either Cardinals offensive tackle. Kyler Murray’s evasion abilities are a positive for the Cardinals in pass protection.

Notes and Observations

  • The Cardinals are 1-2 against the spread this season.
  • The Cardinals are 1-1-1 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Kyler Murray is 12th in the league in yards passing and 32nd in yards per attempt.
  • Among quarterbacks Murray is ninth in yards rushing with 65 yards.
  • No Cardinals running back has been a real factor on the ground to this point in the season. However, James Conner is 16th among running backs in yards receiving while teammate Eno Benjamin is 19th.
  • The Panthers have allowed the sixth-most yards rushing and the third-fewest yards receiving to running backs this season.
  • Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is 26th in the league in target share (24.8%) and seventh in air yards share (42.3%).
  • If Rondale Moore returns this week, he’ll cut into Greg Dortch’s 16.8% target share.
  • The Panthers have allowed the eighth-most yards receiving on the fourth-most receptions to wide receivers this season.
  • Zach Ertz is second on the Cardinals in target share (18.2%) and air yards share (17.2%).
  • The Panthers have allowed the fifth-fewest yards receiving on the second-fewest receptions to tight ends this season.

This is What You’re Betting On in Panthers vs. Cardinals

A bet on the Panthers is a bet on the unreliable trinity of Baker Mayfield, Matt Rhule, and Ben McAdoo. Christian McCaffrey is banged up and remains on the injury report as of Friday afternoon. D.J. Moore is in a positive regression spot against a talent-poor group of Cardinals cornerbacks. A bet on Carolina is a bet on the Panthers’ offense playing closer to expectations than they have through the first three games. Your biggest concern on a Panthers bet is Kyler Murray carrying the Cardinals’ offense beyond their current means.

A bet on the Cardinals is a bet on Kyler Murray. I’m not sure any other team in the league is more reliant on their quarterback’s performance than the Cardinals are on Kyler Murray right now. In their current state, outside of quarterback, the only Arizona position groups that are on the positive side of average are tight end, linebacker, and safety. When I ask myself the question “How do the Cardinals win this football game” the only answer I truly have is Kyler Murray. Your next-best angle on the Cardinals is to bet against Baker Mayfield, Matt Rhule, and Ben McAdoo.

Awards Market Ramifications: Christian McCaffrey is a Comeback Player of the Year candidate. His position in that race will slide if he misses this contest.

Winner/Confidence Pool: Whichever side you take in this contest should be ranked towards the bottom of your confidence pool. In large field winner pools, I expect that I will take a little of both teams, though I’d lean towards Kyler Murray going out and winning this game.

Spread Pool: I was a little surprised that Carolina opened as a slight favorite in this contest. I’m less enthusiastic about Arizona here than I was a few days ago, as you’re truly betting on Kyler Murray to go out and win this game if you’re taking the Cardinals. While I’m not opposed to that idea, I generally prefer more paths to a win than that. I’m still going to consider Arizona in tournaments this week, but I tend to avoid public backed sides in a game that has a strange line.

Survivor: This game should be avoided in survivor this week.

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