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New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals Free Pick 9/22/13

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)

NFL Football: Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

The Line: New Orleans Saints -7.5 -- Over/Under: 48.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: Fox

The Arizona Cardinals head to New Orleans this weekend to face off against the Saints.

The New Orleans Saints are 2-0 to start their season, and even though the Saints aren’t winning pretty…they’re still winning.  The Saints currently have the fifth ranked passing offense in the league, averaging 318 yards per game, but the ground game, something Sean Payton notoriously does well, is struggling, averaging just 76.5 yards per game.  The Saints had a solid day against the Bucs last weekend in Tampa, putting up a total of 371 yards on the day.  Brees had an off day (at least by his standards) throwing for 322 yards and a score, while also throwing two picks and fumbling.  The ground game as a whole for the Saints is really struggling right now.  Thomas was the leading rusher against the Bucs, carrying the ball just 5 times for 29 yards.   The Saints entire offense carried the ball 20 times for a combined 75 yards.  Of course, the Saints have Brees and a dynamic passing attack, but back when this team was winning and contending for Super Bowl titles, the Saints offense remained balanced.  I think over time this offense will improve, but until I see a dramatic improvement in the ground game for the Saints, New Orleans may have to fight and claw their way to wins.

New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals Free Pick 9/22/13

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are 1-1 to start the season.  The Cards are coming off a solid 25-21 win over the Detroit Lions at home this past weekend.  Arizona has the 12th ranked passing attack in the league, averaging more than 282 yards per game, but the key to Arizona’s success now, and this season, is their defense.  The Cards are ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game with 58, and 21st against the pass with an average of 286 yards per game allowed.  The offense was clicking against the Lions, as the Cards put up 348 yards of total offense, and it is clear that bringing in Palmer was a solid move for this organization, be it even in the short term.  Palmer threw for 248 yards and a score against the Lions defense, which made a concerted effort to shut down the Arizona ground attack.  The running game for the Cards produced 87 yards on 25 attempts against the Lions, averaging 3.5 yards per carry.  Like most teams in the NFC West this season, the Cards are stout defensively.  Arizona held Stafford to 278 yard through the air, and the Lions ground game suffered, as Detroit rushed for just 49 yards on 20 attempts.

In their last nine games played in September, the Cardinals are 6-3 overall and 7-2 against the spread.  Currently on the season, Arizona is 2-0 against the spread.  The Saints are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 3.5 – 7 points, and in home lined games; the Saints are an impressive 14-4 against the spread in their last 18.  This season the Saints are 1-1 against the number.

The Saints are very strong at home, but the value here looks to be with the Cardinals.  Larry Fitz is listed as questionable for the Cardinals, but I fully expect him to play.  The Saints have a dynamic offense, capable of scoring lightning fast, but in Payton’s third game back, and at home, I look for the Saints to try and work on their ground game a bit more.  Arizona has a very stout defense, and is more efficient than the Saints in the red zone.  I have the Saints winning this one by about a field goal, and getting more than a touchdown with this Arizona team looks solid.

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Arizona +7.5

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