Arizona at San Diego Preseason Week 2 Expert Pick & Odds
The NFL preseason doesn’t matter. Let’s make that very clear — avoiding injuries is the most important thing. But with that said, both the San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals looked pretty bad last week in their preseason-opening losses. So I’m sure both head coaches will expect a better effort Friday night, the final of three preseason games on the night, from San Diego. The Bolts are slight favorites on NFL odds.
How to Bet on the Arizona at San Diego Preseason Week 2 Expert Pick, Odds & TV Info
Day 1 in San Diego ✅ pic.twitter.com/QejI6SzI3Q
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 17, 2016
Arizona vs San Diego Historic Betting Trends
This marks the 22nd time the Chargers and Cardinals have met in the preseason. San Diego holds a 12-9 series edge, and has won seven straight dating back to 2004.
Last year they also played their second preseason game against one another but in Arizona. San Diego won 22-19 even though star QB Philip Rivers didn’t play. San Diego had six first-half sacks, and Josh Lambo kicked a 42-yard field goal as the game ended. Kellen Clemens, starting in Rivers’ place, was 9 of 15 for 88 yards. Carson Palmer, playing less than one quarter, completed a 57-yard pass to J.J. Nelson for Arizona. The Chargers’ lone first-half touchdown came after linebacker Kavell Conner intercepted Drew Stanton’s underthrown pass and returned it 29 yards to the Cardinals 12-yard line, leading to Branden Oliver’s 3-yard scoring run.
Why Bet on Arizona?
The Cardinals certainly have a better roster as they were 13-3 last regular season, won the NFC West title and reached the NFC Championship Game before being routed by Carolina. Last week, however, Arizona lost 31-10 at home to Oakland. Palmer directed a 73-yard drive for a field goal in his one series before the Raiders backups dominated their Arizona counterparts. Palmer completed 3 of 5 passes for 31 yards. Third-round draft pick Brandon Williams, who won the starting cornerback job in training camp, had a rough start Friday. He was beaten several times.
On the bright side, tight end Troy NIklas, who is having a good camp, had two catches for 44 yards, including a long of 32, in limited action against the Raiders. Niklas is behind Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham on the Cardinals' depth chart at tight end, his roster spot is all but assured. But Niklas’ impressive camp has put some heat on the two incumbent starters.
The Cards remain without three key defensive players but S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Justin Bethel and DT Frostee Rucker came off PUP on Monday. They only participated in walk through won’t play here. While Mathieu didn’t do any running, cutting or tackling, he was lively in his first day back on the field since tearing his ACL near the end of last season.
Coach Bruce Arians cautioned that the move doesn’t mean a return to practice is imminent for any of the three, or that they are on target for the regular season opener against the Patriots on Sept. 11.
Why Bet on San Diego?
The Bolts can’t play much worse than in last week’s 27-10 loss at Tennessee, the NFL’s worst team last year. Rivers played just one series and connected with Melvin Gordon on a 44-yard touchdown. Rivers was 2 of 3 for 64 yards. Clemens and Zach Mettenberger are competing for the backup quarterback spot. Clemens played most of the first half and went 9 of 16 for 96 yards. Mettenberger entered in the second half and was 2 of 8 for 22 yards with an interception.
The big worry was the 288 yards rushing allowed on 33 carries. John Pagano, defensive coordinator for the Chargers, has pointed to his team’s inability to limit explosive plays as the weakness of his defense the past couple seasons. That was on display again. The Chargers gave up five runs of 15 or more yards against Tennessee’s stable of running backs, including a 71-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray and a 41-yard scamper for a score by Bishop Sankey.
Watch for the Bolts to continue to establish their ground attack against Arizona. Each running back that carried the ball against the Titans averaged at least 3.8 yards per carry, including Kenneth Farrow (3.8) Melvin Gordon (4.0), Chris Swain (5.5), Oliver (6.3) and Danny Woodhead (9.0.).
My Expert Pick
If this were a regular-season game, easy call. But I like the Bolts at home on NFL odds and a rare over total.