If last week’s loss to the Detroit Lions was a quintessential letdown game, then for the Arizona Cardinals, this is a come-up game. As in, you better come up with a great performance; otherwise, you’re going to get your comeuppance when it comes time to playoff seeding.
That, of course, assumes that the playoffs are in the future of the Cardinals, which is still pretty close to certain, if not yet officially clinched. But the NFC West is up for grabs, and the top seed and first-round bye right now belongs to the Green Bay Packers.
For the Colts, it was assumed that after they dropped a second game to Tennessee earlier in the season, the AFC South was lost. But injuries in Tennessee, and losses to Houston, New England, and Pittsburgh over their last four games, has put Indy into the hunt.
Also, putting Indianapolis in range of a division title is their all-everything running back Jonathan Taylor, who, if he played back when someone other than quarterbacks could win the MVP, would be the front-runner.
The Colts are not going to try and fool you. They just beat a very good Patriots defense by completing five passes and giving the ball to their soon-to-be All-Pro running back 29 times. He ran for 170 yards and a whopping 7.7 yards per carry when running between the tackles.
As a team, Indianapolis rushed for 226 yards, one game after rushing for 238 yards. In fact, it was the fourth time in the last six games that, as a team, the Colts rushed for 226 yards or more. In that same time, Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis passing game has broken 200 yards only twice.
Any guesses as to what the Colts offensive game plan will be on Saturday night?
Arizona Cardinals (-1.5)
Losing to the Rams at home, when everything went wrong for you, and everything went right for the Rams, was disappointing for the Cardinals, but definitely not panic-inducing. They were still in fairly firm control of their own regular-season destiny.
Yes, Arizona football fans, now you can press the panic button.
Losing to Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp is forgivable. Losing to Jared Goff and Craig Reynolds is not. And not only is it right to push the panic button, but it’s also right to be scared this week.
Reynolds is a three-year undrafted journeyman who had 87 career rushing yards before Sunday. He now has 199 yards after going for 112 against the Arizona defense. If Reynolds, who is on his third team in three years, can go for over 100, what will Jonathan Taylor do?
Arizona was at one time 7-0 and on top of the NFL. They have since gone 3-4, and strangely they have lost three of those games at home. So the home-field advantage that might be at play in this one, isn’t there.
The Cardinals beat bad teams in Chicago and Seattle recently, but the Week 9 win at San Francisco and Week 4 at the Rams are really the last time this team looked impressive.
Indy is hot, and they bring in the exact kind of offense that has been killing the Cardinals. Arizona ranks just 17th in stopping the run, and that will drop even further after losing to the Colts.
Indianapolis has gone under six times this season and in each of the last two weeks. Arizona has gone under seven times, including last week in Detroit. Lots of running plays means a lot of running clock, and this game will also go UNDER.