It’s a matchup of 2015 division winners in the third preseason game of the year on Sunday afternoon between reigning NFC West champion Arizona and defending AFC South winner Houston. Both could well repeat as division winners in 2016 and their starters should play the first full half on Sunday. The Texans are favored in online NFL betting.
Let’s Take a Look at the Arizona at Houston Preseason Week 3 Free Pick, Lines & TV Info
Lots of great moments at #CardsCamp today.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 26, 2016
When: Sunday, Aug. 28, 4 PM ET
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston
Opening NFL Lines: Texans -1 (41.5)
Arizona vs Houston Historic Betting Trends
Arizona leads 2-1 and won the last meeting 32-0 in 2014. This is the first time the teams will play an exhibition game in Houston. The clubs last played in the regular season in 2013 in Arizona, a 27-24 Cardinals win. Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes. Arizona got off to a quick start when linebacker John Abraham knocked the ball out of quarterback Case Keenum’s arm and Matt Shaughnessy returned it 6 yards for a touchdown only 14 seconds into the game. The Texans led 17-14 at the break, but managed just 41 yards in the final two quarters. Houston finished 2-14 that year, leading to the firing of Coach Gary Kubiak.
Why Bet on Arizona?
The Cardinals need a good result after getting blown out in their first two preseason games. Last Friday it was 19-3 in San Diego. Palmer finished 4 of 8 for 37 yards, with one interception. David Johnson had 5 yards on three carries. Chris Johnson added 7 yards on four carries.
Arizona receiver John Brown returned to Cardinals practice Thursday after suffering a concussion on Sunday. Brown will probably be held out of this weekend’s regular season dress rehearsal. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians held WR Larry Fitzgerald out of practice again Thursday. He wants to be careful with Fitz’s knee “until this calms down” but won’t rule Fitz out of Sunday’s game. With the season on the horizon, Fitzgerald would rather be cautious than risk further injury.
“I could probably go out there and be effective and do my job, but a set back with less than (three) weeks to go, it’d be less than ideal,” Fitzgerald said. “I want to make sure that I’m doing what I can do to help my team right now. But, obviously, Sept. 11 is when it really hits the fan and that’s the goal: have all hands on deck against the Patriots.”
Cards backup QB Drew Stanton has been terrible in the preseason, completing 4-of- 13 passes for 74 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. But he’s not worried about it.
“The big thing is just getting out there,” Stanton said. “You want to get hit a little bit and do some stuff. Obviously the interception (against the Chargers) wasn’t ideal, but I had a reason for why I did it.”
Meanwhile, a starting cornerback spot is open. Rookie Brandon Williams tops the depth chart and as of now would be the starter. Veteran Justin Bethel returned to practice this week, and while he still hasn’t been taking 100 percent of the work, Arians said there is “plenty of time” for Bethel to take back the starting job.
Why Bet on Houston?
The Texans are one of a handful of 2-0 teams this preseason despite playing without star defensive end J.J. Watt. Last week the Texans beat the Saints 16-9. Brock Osweiler threw a touchdown pass and led the starting offense to three first-half scores. The Texans shut out the Saints until late in the third quarter and forced two turnovers. The Texans were without left tackle Duane Brown (torn quad), right guard Jeff Allen, who missed the game because of a death in the family, rookie center Nick Martin (high ankle sprain) and right tackle Derek Newton (strained hamstring).
Houston got bad news on Martin this week when he underwent season-ending ankle surgery. Texans coach Bill O’Brien had acknowledged Sunday that there was a possibility Martin would require surgery to repair the damage to his ankle suffered during a joint practice against the Saints. Projected as an immediate starter and lauded repeatedly for his toughness, intelligence and skill, Martin didn’t play in any preseason games due to ankle and back injuries. He was the team’s second-round pick this year. In Martin’s absence, Greg Mancz has taken the majority of the reps in practice and in the Texans’ first two preseason games. Mancz has worked his way back after he missed the final two months of last season with a knee injury. Brown, incidentally, won’t play again this week and likely won’t be ready for Week 1.
Meanwhile, Watt won’t play again off back surgery but there may be good news. He is hoping to practice next week and could be ready for Week 1. Watt has been able to ramp up his activity level since having a microdiscectomy to repair a herniated disc in late July. All signs have been positive in Watt’s recovery, returning to mobility at a quick pace.
My Free Pick
The Texans are really banged up and the Cardinals need a win. So for a rare time, I am taking a road team in the preseason on NFL odds. Go under.