Thursday Night Football Picks: Our Staff's Top Bets for Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers
Oh, what could've been...
Tonight's matchup between the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and 6-1 Green Bay Packers could have been a matchup for the ages, but injuries and COVID have been a damper on this one.
For the Packers, star wideout Davante Adams won't suit up, and No. 2 receiver Allen Lazard will be out as well. As for Arizona, they'll be sans the services of J.J. Watt, who is likely out for the season with a shoulder injury.
Damperness (is that a word) aside, this is still a bout between two of the top teams in the NFC, and it's damn near impossible for it to be more boring than last week's Broncos-Browns snoozefest. And, as an added bonus, our staff are providing you with bets to place that are sure to keep you invested and tilting for the entire game!
In addition to an ever-growing abundance of top-notch content, our staff will be providing us with their favorite overall plays each week of the season.
For this piece, our staff will be covering whatever bets they feel strongest about for the Cardinals vs. Packers matchup -- no limitations. Let’s get to it!
Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers Picks
Green Bay Packers +6.5
This line ballooned when the general public found out the news that both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. There is no doubt Green Bay is in a tough spot on a short week against the undefeated Cardinals. But the Packers still have #12 under center, and that is good enough for me to grab almost a touchdown. The Packers averaged 33.5 PPG in the two games that Davante Adams missed last year, while also throwing for 610 yards and seven touchdowns. And in case you were wondering, they were also missing Lazard in one of those. Rodgers will do his part in keeping this game close. The future Hall-of-Famer is 4-1 ATS in his career as an underdog of at least six points.
-- Mike Spector (@MikeSpector01)
Total: Under 50.5 Points
With Allen Lazard and Davante Adams out, the Green Bay Packers are going to struggle to put up points. As it stands anyway with the Arizona Cardinals, their defense ranks third in the NFL while the Packers aren't too shabby themselves coming in at 12th. Over the last three games, Arizona has allowed the fewest points per play in the NFL and are second to only New Orleans on the season. Even with a fully healthy squad, I don't think there's enough points scored to clear this number, hammer the under at plus-money.
-- Matt O’Leary (@MattOLearyNY)
Aaron Jones Over 61.5 Rushing Yards
Aaron Jones got only 6 carries for 19 yards in Sunday's win vs. Washington, so some could consider it risky stepping in front of this one, but on closer look, I believe the Packers purposefully paid attention to how much work Jones was getting because they knew they had a big NFC match up coming up on just a couple of short days' rest. I project Jones to get 14-15-plus carries in this game. People will likely be surprised to know the Cardinals also rank last in explosive run rate allowed this season.
-- Geoff Fienberg (@gfienberg17)
Aaron Jones is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season, and prior to the game against the Washington Football Team last week, he had two straight weeks where he went off. Jones ran for 76 yards on 13 attempts against the Bears and 103 yards on 14 attempts against the Bengals. He also got this number against the Lions and 49ers. If there's anything to kill the 7-0 Cardinals for, it's their rushing defense. They've allowed 115.7 yards per game on the ground this season but that really doesn't tell the full story. The full story will be shared on the field when Jones breaks a couple rushes for big gains. With multiple receivers out due to protocol, Jones will be the main point of attack, and to do that, the Packers will need to run the football.
-- Jason Radowitz (@Jason_Radowitz)
Aaron Jones Over 5.5 Receptions
- Aaron Jones receiving averages per game when Davante Adams plays: 4 targets, 2.8 catches, 20.5 yards, 0.04 touchdowns
- Aaron Jones receiving averages per game when Davante Adams doesn't play: 6 targets, 4.8 catches, 56.2 yards, 0.67 TDs
There's an uptick with Jones's usage as a receiver when Adams isn't in the lineup. Tonight, without Adams, Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jones should get plenty of looks. He's eclipsed this number once this season back in Week 2 against the Lions. In 2019 without Adams, the Packers went 4-0 -- Jones caught 22 passes for 280 yards and three touchdown in those games. Last season, in the game without Adams and Lazard, Aaron Rodgers relied plenty on his running backs in the passing game. Backup Jamal Williams had eight catches for 95 yards, and Aaron Jones had five catches for 40 yards and a receiving score. Now AJ Dillon fills the role left by Williams, but Aaron Jones will be the safety blanket all night on Thursday as Dillon isn't as great as a receiver as Williams was. The Packers will most likely be behind in this game and throwing, so Jones at plus-money for six receptions is a bet I like. The price on all other Packers receiving props is juiced to at least (-140) for totals, so this is my favorite play. Best of luck if you tail!
-- Tom Viera (@Tom_Viera)
Robert Tonyan Anytime Touchdown Scorer
With both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard out for tonight's game, Aaron Rodgers will be without his top-two wide receiver options. The good news? Tight end Robert Tonyan has the third-most targets from Rodgers this season with 25 (behind Davante Adams & Aaron Jones). Tonyan is coming off his best game of 2021 with 4 catches on 5 targets for 63 yards and a touchdown. This is perfect timing for Tonyan to remind Rodgers that he caught 11 touchdowns from him last year. Although the Arizona Cardinals haven't given up a touchdown to the tight end position this season, this feels like the week that breaks the streak.
-- Nate Hamilton (@DomiNateFF)
Kyler Murray 20+ Rushing Yards, Aaron Jones 4+ Receptions, A.J. Dillon 16+ Receiving Yards (+270) - DraftKings
As usual, my best bet will be a same-game parlay. Individually, none of these bets will get you odds worth looking at, but on the same ticket? Juicy. The first thing to note is that the Packers have allowed the second-most rush yards to opposing quarterbacks. Jared Goff (47 yards), Justin Fields (43), and Taylor Heinicke (95) have also posted season-highs in rushing yards against them, and Jameis Winston (37) came within three yards of his season-best mark. Kyler Murray is a far better rusher than all of those guys. Yes, he's been running less, but it would be foolish of the Cards not to take avantage of this matchup.
For the second and third legs, it's pretty straightforward -- the Packers are without their top two wideouts, and LaFleur has leaned heavily on his backs in the passing game in similar situations in the past. Aaron Jones has had at least four receptions in four of his last six games, and Arizona has ceded four or more to a back three times in their last five outings. As for Dillon, he's totaled 16 and 49 receiving yards in two of his last four, and he should see a healthy amount of dump-offs tonight.
-- Elisha Twerski (@ElishaTwerski)
Want to build your own parlay? Check out OddsChecker's parlay calculator to see what kind of odds your parlay will net!
Arizona Cardinals -6.5
The Cardinals just lost JJ Watt, which will surely hurt them for the rest of the year, but the Packers are missing a ton of wide receivers themselves, including Davante Adams. The Cardinals secondary has been great this season and should be able to handle the Packers' backups, while Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense continues on their warpath. Perhaps some Aaron Rodgers magic throws a wrench in things here, but it's going to be tough sledding for him and the Packers, especially on the road.
-- Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass)