If Carson Palmer is healthy, the Arizona Cardinals are usually in good shape. His record as their starting quarterback proves it.
Arizona is 14-2 with Palmer and 5-6 without him since the middle of the 2013 season. He made a successful comeback from knee surgery by leading the way to a season-opening 31-19 win over New Orleans, and the Cardinals try to make it two in a row today against Chicago.
Las Vegas handicapper Joe D’Amico (Aasiwins.com) is putting his faith in Palmer and siding with the Cardinals as 2-point road favorites.
Palmer passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns against the Saints, while Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson carried the load on the ground. Ellington suffered a minor right knee injury last week and will miss today’s game.
The Bears are off a 31-23 loss to Green Bay in which Jay Cutler threw a costly late interception.
“Cutler is resembling the same old quarterback that we all know makes a ton of mistakes,” D’Amico said. “Palmer’s record has been outstanding recently, and against a soft Chicago defense, he will pad his numbers with the help of his stellar receiving corps.”
The Bears are 7-19-1 against the spread in their past 27 home games, and the Cardinals are 14-5 ATS in their past 19 versus NFC opponents.
D’Amico breaks down the rest of today’s Week 2 schedule:
* Houston at Carolina (-3): The Panthers’ passing game looks stagnant without injured wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. J.J. Watt and the Houston defense will contain quarterback Cam Newton. The Texans started slowly offensively last week, and quarterback issues have the unit in trouble, especially without running back Arian Foster. Carolina’s defense, which held Jacksonville to nine points, should help keep this under the total (40).
* Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-9½): The Buccaneers had one of the NFL’s least productive offenses last season, and judging from their 42-14 loss to Tennessee, this season could be just as bad. New Orleans has failed to cover seven straight times, including all four preseason games, but is traditionally solid in home openers, going 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven. The Saints have seven consecutive victories over Tampa Bay. This line was at 10 for most of the week, and laying double digits is tough. I’m staying away from this one.
* San Francisco at Pittsburgh (-6): The Steelers had nine days to rest and prepare, while the 49ers had to fly across the country after a late Monday game. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found help from DeAngelo Williams (127 yards rushing) and Antonio Brown (133 yards receiving) in the loss at New England. The Steelers can move the chains efficiently between the 20s. Pittsburgh is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 home openers. San Francisco has little chance of keeping up score for score in this one. I’m laying less than a touchdown and playing Pittsburgh.
* Detroit at Minnesota (-2½): The departures of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have downgraded a Lions defense that helped blow an 18-point lead at San Diego. But with second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater struggling and Adrian Peterson being limited to 10 carries, the Vikings produced only three points in their opener. Minnesota’s run defense was exposed, yielding 168 yards to the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde. I’ll side with a Detroit team that took both meetings a year ago in a tight NFC North rivalry. However, it’s probably too late to find plus-3.
* New England at Buffalo (Pick): A lot of leaks are showing in the Patriots’ defense, and young Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor won’t be intimidated after he outplayed the Colts’ Andrew Luck a week ago. The Buffalo defense will get the job done, and coach Rex Ryan’s ground-and-pound offense will break down the New England defense. Take the Bills at Orchard Park, where they have covered their past four games.
* Tennessee (-1½) at Cleveland: In another matchup of former Heisman Trophy quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota faces Johnny Manziel. Five turnovers killed Cleveland in a 31-10 loss to the Jets. Mariota looked like he did at Oregon, posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3 against Tampa Bay. Titans running backs Bishop Sankey and Terrance West give them an edge. But I don’t expect the Browns to commit as many miscues, even with Manziel running the show. This game probably will be decided by a field goal. If pushed, I must lean to the more polished Titans.
* San Diego at Cincinnati (-3): The Chargers showed a lot of poise while overcoming a 21-3 deficit to Detroit, but they lost offensive lineman D.J. Fluker to an ankle injury. His absence could help a hungry Cincinnati defense get to quarterback Philip Rivers. Bengals running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill will take the pressure off Andy Dalton and allow him to hook up with his big-play targets. Cincinnati is 15-5-1 ATS in its past 21 at home. This line is floating from 3 to 3½, so get the best number on the Bengals.
* St. Louis (-3½) at Washington: The Rams rallied for a 34-31 overtime victory over Seattle in Week 1. Part of the reason for their success is the 2012 blockbuster trade with Washington that allowed the Redskins to move up and draft quarterback Robert Griffin III, who will be on the bench. Against a strong St. Louis front seven, things will get worse for the Washington offense. Rams quarterback Nick Foles needs to avoid turnovers and get the ball to his bevy of playmaking receivers. The Rams are 6-1 ATS in their past seven meetings with the Redskins. Washington is 1-7 ATS in its past eight at home. Lay the points with St. Louis and look for minus-3.
* Atlanta at New York Giants (-2½): Eli Manning and the Giants were not sharp offensively in a last-minute loss at Dallas. The Falcons come into this matchup off a win over Philadelphia on Monday, and they have Dallas up next. This is a spot for the Falcons to get sandwiched with a poor performance. Look under the total (51).
* Baltimore (-6) at Oakland: In a 19-13 loss at Denver, the Ravens offense was pitiful, gaining a league-low 173 yards and failing to produce a touchdown. Derek Carr (thumb) is expected to start at quarterback, but the Raiders’ lack of a running game is crushing them. Oakland coach Jack Del Rio has tried to light a fire under his defense. The total of 43 looks a little high, so I might play this under.
* Miami (-5½) at Jacksonville: The past five meetings in this series went under the total. With a fortified defensive line, the Dolphins should have no problem containing a Jaguars offense that averaged a mere 15.5 points last season. Ryan Tannehill and the Miami offense are a work in progress. Play this under 41½ as the streak stays alive.
* Dallas at Philadelphia (-5): Both offenses were among the league’s highest-scoring a season ago. Eagles coach Chip Kelly has a unit that can score on any defense in the NFL, and the Dallas defense is overrated. Without much of a running attack, the Cowboys will rely on Tony Romo to pass early and often. Dallas is 7-1 over the total in its past eight road games. I see this flying over 55.
* Seattle at Green Bay (-3½): Some things have changed since the NFC Championship Game. Seattle’s defense is shorthanded, and Green Bay’s star wideout, Jordy Nelson, is out for the season. The Seahawks won the past three meetings, so the Packers have revenge in mind. Aaron Rodgers can take advantage of a depleted Seattle secondary. Marshawn Lynch can tear up a forgiving Green Bay run defense. The line is sitting at 3½, making this a tough game to figure. I think there are better bets on the board, but if pushed, my opinion is over the total of 48½.
— Compiled by Matt Youmans/Review-Journal