Down in the Desert

Published on 08-Sep-2014 by Steve Soprano
Football - NFL / NFL Daily Stake

Light it up.

Well, our first NFL pick of the regular season bombed yesterday with the Steelers-Browns game going over in the third quarter when we thought it would never get close to the number.  

So, just like a good prize fighter, we'll get back up, lick our wounds, replenish the bankroll from prior successes here, go right back after 'em today, and try the same play again.

That's because I'm really liking the under in the San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals game, which is the second half of tonight's double-header. Bovada has the number sitting at 46½, and I see it staying below that.

I guess I'm the tie-breaker, then.

Let's start with the Cardinals' defense, which brings a number of new faces to the table this season after losing key players from last year's squad. Free agency and Daryl Washington's drug suspension will have that sort of effect.

However, Arizona is still one that wants to let its defense set the tempo and have its offense do just enough to win.

And it's a D that led the league in rushing defense last year, not to mention being among league leaders in several other defensive categories, as well. If you need to find a little more backing for that, just take the Cardinals late-season victory in Seattle late last season. Yes, that's in Seattle, where they held the Seahawks to 10 points.

While there are those new additions, the Cardinals are still formidable up front -- with unheralded defensive lineman Calais Campbell -- and solid in the secondary with Patrick Peterson.

As we look at the other side of the ball, the Cardinals' ground game could be hampered if running back André Ellington misses the game, and due to injury, he's a game-time decision.

However, the Cardinals still have some proven backs like off-season aquisition Jonathan Dwyer from the Steelers. They'll try to use the run to set up the pass.

San Diego's defense struggled against the pass last season but still managed to finish the campaign 11th best in points allowed. And the addition of Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers should help where they were lacking in pass coverage.

The Bovada data tool on the Home page does provide some info to back up this pick. There, you'll see the Chargers have been involved in some low-scoring games as of late, with four of their last five road games staying under the number.

San Diego at Atlanta

Bovada trends

This one should be close and entertaining to the end, just without a ton of points. Look for the Cardinals to stay conservative when they have the ball and for their stingy defense to keep the Chargers in check to hold this one below the total.  

My pick:  San Diego at Arizona     under 46½

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Result:  Arizona 18 San Diego 17     total = 35     under covers

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