What does it take for a 3-9 Denver Broncos team with a new head coach and the 30th-ranked defense in the NFL to be a four-point road favorite? The Arizona Cardinals. That's how bad the Cardinals, who Arizona fans at one point were so confident could win the NFC West, have become.
The line opened early in the week with Denver -3.5 but that has increased to -4 with word that the Cardinals would be without the two starting quarterbacks -- Derek Anderson and Max Hall --- who lead their team to a total of 200 points on the season and 30 turnovers. Certainly, there are plenty of Red Bird fans who are thrilled that they don't have to watch Anderson overthrow receivers and Hall toss perfect strikes into the arms of waiting defenders.
John Skelton barely edged out Richard Bartel who the team signed this week from the UFL, at least has the promise of potential and the unknown. While the pencil-necks in Vegas who set the odds understand that there's a reason fifth-round rookie Skelton has no business starting in the NFL this season, here in Arizona the general mood is, "he can't be any worse than Hall and Anderson".
Our experts were split on this game with only three of our eleven going with the home-town team. Jose, Cory and Lolly either know something the rest of us don't or simply can't bring themselves to pick the Broncos on the road. Or maybe they just checked the wrong box?
The more surprising part of the line for this game is the point total of 43.5. While the Cardinals and Broncos are only averaging a combined 37.9 points per game, the two defense are giving up a total of 56 per game to their opponents. Two really bad offenses versus two really bad defenses in the beautiful Arizona 80 degree weather should put up big numbers. I would bet the over in a heartbeat.
As a side note, it will be very interesting to see if Ken Whisenhunt who has called pass plays for his horrible quarterbacks 60 percent of the time, will change his standard game plan. All season it has seemed that Whisenhunt has forgotten that Kurt Warner is gone and insisted that his team throw the ball. His running backs have said they want the ball more and they've produced when given the chance (4.3 yards / carry, 12th in NFL) so will Whiz recognize that he's starting yet another rookie quarterback and that he's facing a run defense even worse than his own?