Thursday’s preseason action will be the first chance NFL fans and pundits get to see in regards to the new look Arizona Cardinals as they host the Los Angeles Chargers. The “Bolts” are expected to make a run at the playoffs this year and contend for the AFC West title. However, the Chargers will sit most of their starters this week due to being a veteran heavy team. Most of this game’s excitement will center on the debuts of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray for the Cardinals. Can they succeed in their first NFL action? Kickoff for Chargers vs Cardinals inside State Farm Stadium is at 10 PM ET.
|Betting Data||Los Angeles Chargers||Arizona Cardinals|
|2018 S/U record||13-5||3-13|
|2018 ATS Home||2-6||3-5|
|2018 ATS Away||8-2||4-3-1|
|2018 O/U Home||3-5||2-6|
|2018 O/U Away||6-4||5-3|
The Chargers and Cardinals have played against each other a total of 14 times in the regular season and playoffs. Los Angeles has a commanding lead in the head-to-head series with a 10-4 record. Thursday’s game will be the 25th time these two teams have played against each other in the preseason. The Chargers also have the preseason advantage with a record of 14-10.
Last year, the Chargers traveled to Arizona in the first game of the 2018 preseason and the Cardinals won that contest by a score of 24 to 17. Prior to that, they played in 2016 and the Chargers won 19 to 3. One additional bit of NFL trivia, the Chargers and Cardinals played in the first ever preseason game outside of the United States. The two teams faced off in Tokyo back in 1976.
The Chargers (0-0) are only 3-5 in the preseason under head coach Anthony Lynn. In his two years as head coach, Los Angeles is 2-2 on the road in exhibition action. The Chargers are expected to sit most of their top players like QB Philip Rivers among others. However, there will still be plenty of action with the backups.
The Cardinals (0-0) will play the 2019 #1 overall pick Kyler Murray for roughly two series. Other than running back David Johnson, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and a few veterans on the defensive side of the ball, you can expect most of the projected starters to get some action this week.
Most NFL betting sites opened with the Cardinals favored by 1 to 1.5 points. Since then, the majority of online betting sites have seen the line move slightly up to 2 points in favor of the Cardinals. The over/under has also seen some movement. The game initially opened with a 35-point O/U, but has gone up to 35.5 total points at most sports betting sites.
As mentioned, it’s expected that Anthony Lynn and the Chargers will sit most of their starting veterans. So, you can expect a heavy dosage of backup QB Tyrod Taylor leading the second and third stringers for most of the first half. Behind him will be Jones and Stick looking to earn a spot on the active roster. With that said, all eyes will be on how the Chargers handle their running back rotation.
For most of the 2019 offseason, the Chargers have been in the spotlight due to the holdout of starting running back Melvin Gordon. There’s a strong chance that his holdout will last into the regular season. With that said, the Chargers do have plenty of depth at this position and we will see those running backs this week. I expect Austin Ekeler to become the starting RB in Gordon’s absence while Justin Jackson will also have plenty of touches. Fourth string running back Detrez Newsome could have the bulk of the carries on Thursday.
For the Cardinals, you can expect most of their starters to play two series. That includes rookie QB Kyler Murray who all eyes will be on. Everyone will want to see how Murray’s college game translates to the pros. Additionally, coach Kingsbury’s high scoring offense will get its first taste of an opposing defense in live action. Arizona still has plenty of talent at the skilled positions to make some noise in their first preseason contest.
The Chargers have plenty of impressive betting stats over the last few seasons. It’s important to narrow down those stats to what they have done in preseason action and not just the regular season. The Los Angeles Chargers have gone 4-8 SU in their last 12 August games. That includes going 3-5 over their last two years under Lynn. Most of the Cardinals betting numbers have been abysmal these last few years. All of the NFL betting trends favor the Chargers in this matchup.
With that said, I am going against the grain and taking the Cardinals to win at home by more than 2 points. I can see the Cardinals playing a more complete game than the Chargers, and that’s largely due to the team playing more starters and wanting to win in their head coach’s first ever NFL game.
I suggest keeping an eye on this spread as it could move before game time. Shop around online betting sites to try and get the spread even lower.
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