Thursday Night Football betting preview. Cardinals vs Seahawks

Dropping Dimes

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-3): Total 56.5

After sluggish Thursday night games the past few weeks, we finally get a track meet this week. We will talk more about pace in a bit, but this game is going to be fun to watch from a betting and fantasy perspective as there should be lots of stats accumulated across the board. On the betting side, we know points are going to be scored and yards are going to be gained, the trick will be figuring out by whom. The lucky thing for us is both the Cardinals and Seahawks boast a tight concentration of pass catchers that are featured week in and week out. The TDs for these two teams can be a bit random at times, but the overall production should continue to be the main culprits.

The Matchup

Arizona offense vs Seattle defense

The Seahawks have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Despite only playing 9 games so far, they have allowed the most pass yards in the league, and the next closest team is a full game’s worth of passing yards behind them (379 yards). Not only is production there from opposing teams, but so is the volume. Teams know that through the air is how you mainly attack Seattle as teams have attempted the most pass attempts against the Seahawks. The next closest team has faced 31 fewer pass attempts AND has played an extra game. Volume, volume, volume.

With Murray being so good with his legs, and Kliff having the urge to feed Kenyan Drake, Murray won’t throw more than 40 times in a game, right? In any other matchup, I’d agree with you as he has only eclipsed 40 attempts once this year. Want to take a guess which team he hung 48 attempts on? Bingo, the Seahawks. Granted that was a back and forth affair with a final score of 37-34, but neither team has done much since then to prove this game should be a different game script.

One of the more interesting stats on the Seahawks defense against QBs comes in the TD department. They have allowed the 14th most pass TDs in the league (16), however, they have allowed the 2nd most rushing TDs (5). Facing a QB who has a rushing TD in every single game this year except one, I like Kyler’s streak to continue though I don’t think I’ll bet the prop for him to rush one in with how steep the odds are (-155).

As for the pass catchers, I mentioned how concentrated the offense is. DeAndre Hopkins leads the team in every metric imaginable, and for good reason. He’s first in targets (88), air yard share (31%), target share (29%) and red zone targets (9). With the cornerbacks Seattle has, there really isn’t anything they can do to slow him down here. In their first matchup he finished with 10 catches on 12 targets for 103 yards and a TD. Good luck.

The clear number 2 for the Cardinals has been Christian Kirk. He ranks 2nd on the team in air yard share (28%), and target share (18%) and is tied for first with Hopkins in red zone targets (9). He has emerged as the favored deep threat for Kyler and should have another good game here against the helpless Seattle secondary.

The pass game doesn’t stop with these two guys though. We will be looking at Larry Fitzgerald’s reception prop tonight as he has the third highest target share (16%), but his targets are very low in depth. I like to bet yards and not receptions when Kirk is in good matchups due to his deep targets, and like to bet receptions and not yards when Fitz is in good matchups due to his short targets.

An off the wall pass catcher I have some interest in tonight in the touchdown department is Dan Arnold. The tight ends for the Cardinals are a bit banged up right now, Arnold being the only healthy one. He is fourth on the team in red zone targets (5) behind Hopkins, Kirk and Chase Edmonds and I wouldn’t be shocked if he caught one here on a nationally televised island game where it always seems like some weird things happen.

The running backs are going to split time again here. Chase Edmonds does get more of the pass game work (38 targets this year) and is better to bet on being a contributor in a fast paced shootout.

Bets Against The Spread

Seattle offense vs Arizona defense

The Cardinals pass defense has benefitted from an easier schedule. They have only allowed one 300 yard passer (Russell Wilson last time they played), but the opposing QBs they have faced outside of Russ and Josh Allen last week have been uninspiring. That list is made up of Jimmy Garoppolo, Dwayne Haskins, Matt Stafford, Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Tua Tagovailoa. Each QB on this list is more of a game manager than a true gunslinger like Russ. Despite facing this list of uninspiring QBs, the Cardinals have still allowed the 15th most pass yards and 14th most pass TDs. I expect Russ to have a bounce back game tonight.

As for the pass catchers, the Seahawks are even more concentrated with their production than the Cardinals are. They are led by two pass catchers: DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Metcalf checks in with a whopping 39% of the air yards and 23% of the targets. Lockett isn’t far behind with 31% of the air yards and 24% of the targets. The next highest target share on the Seahawks is Chris Carson (12%) who isn’t even playing in this game.

Last time these teams played Tyler Lockett went absolutely nuclear going for 15 receptions on 20 targets, 200 yards and 3 TDs. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that production will not happen again this go round. 

Metcalf is an athletic freak who is one of the toughest wide receivers to guard in the league. He has eclipsed 90 yards in 7 of 9 games this year, though one of those games he failed to reach that mark did come against the Cardinals. I think people flock to recency bias more than anything on the Metcalf and Lockett situation in this game and especially since they know Patrick Peterson will be on Metcalf most of the game. I’m here to tell you that Peterson hasn’t been a shutdown corner this year. He has allowed a 65% catch rate, 13.3 yards per completion, 3 TDs and a passer rating of 87 despite facing a bunch of mediocre passing attacks. I think we see Metcalf steal the show from Lockett this time around, especially with Lockett being a bit banged up.

With Chris Carson out and Carlos Hyde not listed on the injury report at all, we should get a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde in this game. The last game he played happened to be against the Cardinals where he performed well before injuring his hamstring. As long as Hyde approaches the 15 carry mark he received the last time Carson sat out and Hyde was the main back, he should eclipse his rushing prop. The Seahawks rank 12th in adjusted line yards and 13th in 2nd level yards on offense while the Cardinals rank 15th in adjusted line yards and 26th in 2nd level yards on defense per Football Outsiders. The Seahawks have been one of the higher pass rate teams in the league this year ranking 7th in pass rate overall and 2nd in pass rate when games are within one score, per Sharp Football Stats. There is some concern they could back off that as they have lost 3 of their last 4 games, but even if they don’t Hyde should have enough opportunities to have a good game here.

Pace of play

Per Football Outsiders, the Cardinals rank third in seconds per play with the game within one score, while the Seahawks rank 9th. The Seahawks rank 4th in seconds per play when they lead by more than one score, while the Cardinals rank 7th. What this tells us is no matter how the game script works out, both teams are going to play fast. The Cardinals don’t throw the ball as much as the Seahawks on a typical basis, but teams tend to skew more pass heavy when playing the porous Seattle secondary, as evidenced by Kyler’s 48 pass attempts last time these two teams faced off. This game is going to be a track meet with minimal defense and I am here for it.

Game bets

While I would like to bet on Russ and the Seahawks to have a big game and take it to the Cardinals after dropping 3 of their last 4, the Cardinals are riding high on momentum after the DeAndre Hopkins hail mary catch against the Bills. Perhaps this could be a let down spot for the Cardinals after such an emotional win, but I think the spread of Seattle -3 sounds right and I am laying off the spread.

I prefer to attack this game from the totals perspective. There were 71 points scored the last time these two teams met. While it isn’t realistic to project that again, I think the 56.5 total by sportsbooks is too low and I like over 56.5 points scored. I think this game ends up settling around 60, with a 31-28 type score.

Player Props

With all of the reasoning above as to why I like these props, here are the ones I am on tonight:

  • DK Metcalf to score a TD (-148)
  • Dan Arnold to score a TD (+450)
  • Carlos Hyde over 54.5 rush yards (-110)
  • DK Metcalf over 79.5 receiving yards (-112)
  • Christian Kirk over 48.5 (-112)
  • DeAndre Hopkins over 6.5 receptions (-167)
  • Larry Fitzgerald over 3.5 receptions (-118)
Dropping Dimes