The point spread has varied wildly for the NFL’s Week 5 Thursday night clash between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, as Carson Palmer’s status has kept oddsmakers on their toes. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted Arizona -1.5 as its first number, but the line has been as high as -4.5 during early wagering.
Palmer has failed concussion protocol and has been ruled out, and on Thursday morning, the Cardinals sit as 3.5-point road favorites. Drew Stanton gets the ball for Arizona, which will surely scare away plenty of bettors considering the Cards in this spot.
Stanton has played sparingly over the past two seasons, as Palmer has stayed relatively healthy. He was disastrous in relief of Palmer in last week’s 17-13 loss at the Rams, which dropped this Super Bowl hopeful to 1-3 on the season, both straight up and against the spread. He was 4-for-11 with interceptions last week in Los Angeles.
The 2014 season offers the best sample size of Stanton’s work, as he started eight games, going 132-for-240 (55 percent) for 1,711 yards, seven touchdowns and five picks. The Cards went 5-3 in those games, all the losses coming on the road (Denver, Atlanta, Seattle).
Even with Palmer, it’s been an ugly start to the season for Arizona, who were among the favorites to win the NFC ahead of the season. A game against the Niners may be an opportunity to get back on the right track – the Cards took both meetings last season. They did not cover in San Fran, although they were laying 7 points in the 19-13 outright win.
Arizona is 0-1 in as road favorites this season, losing at Buffalo 33-18 as a 4.5-point chalk, but went 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in the role last season, including the aforementioned game against the Niners. It’s hard to put too much weight into this trend, though, since it was all built with Palmer, not Stanton.
Arizona may not be who we thought they were, but the 49ers definitely are. After shutting out the Rams at Levi’s Stadium in Week 1, they’ve lost three straight and haven’t even covered a spread. They were a wiseguy play at home against the Cowboys last week and looked decent early, but ultimately weren’t nearly as effective as they needed to be and lost, 24-17.
Making things look even more dire in San Francisco, NaVorro Bowman, the team’s best defensive player and the leading tackler in the NFL last season, is done of the year with a torn Achilles.
The Niners can be feisty as home dogs, though. They are 1-1 SU and ATS in the role last season, and they went 4-4 SU and 5-3 ATS in the role last year, beating the Vikings, Ravens, Packers and Rams outright.
They have to be looking at tonight as a solid opportunity against Stanton.
Cardinals at 49ers total
The total sits at 42.5 for Thursday night. Arizona has been trending ‘under’ big time, as that bet has cashed in eight of their last 10 regular-season games, including three of four this season.
With Stanton in for Palmer, one guesses the Cards will go conservative. One also guesses their defense will get better of the Niners offense.
While all this points to the ‘under’, turnovers could wreak havoc on that wager.
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