What to Expect from Cardinals at Ravens?

One of the more fascinating games on the NFL Week 2 slate is the Cardinals traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The headliner of Cardinals at Ravens is rookie Kyler Murray going up against the once-maligned, now seemingly universally loved Lamar Jackson.

What stands out from the top in this matchup is how much Lamar was doubted coming out of college, while Kyler Murray received acclaim and praise from all corners of the sports spectrum before going #1 overall in the 2019 NFL draft. Now, at least from a fantasy perspective, everyone is all aboard the Lamar train, while the Kyler seeds of doubt are rapidly germinating.

While Kyler was able to eventually post somewhat respectable numbers in week one, it came against a Lions secondary happy to sit in a soft shell as they played not to lose in the fourth quarter. Kyler’s line at the end of the day looked OK with 308 yards passing, but it took him 54 attempts to reach that number. Despite his speed, Kyler was not very active with his legs, running for 13 yards on 3 carries.

Cardinals Offense vs. Ravens Defense.

What Kyler has going for him are three things: his coach providing a familiar offense, future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, and a dual-threat rushing/receiving weapon in David Johnson.

David Johnson was effective on the ground last week, racking up 82 yards on 18 carries. Johnson was also useful catching the ball out of the backfield, with 6 receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. It was Larry Fitzgerald who stole the show in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 8 catches for 113 yards and 1 TD.

On defense, the Ravens are likely licking their chops to face off against 5’8” (let’s be real) Kyler Murray. In the offseason the Ravens added Earl Thomas to anchor their secondary, but they also lost linebacker and key contributor Zardarius Smith to the Packers. Since this defense wasn’t tested at all last week, it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals chose to attack them.

Ravens Offense vs. Cardinals Defense

The Cardinals defense was solid against the Lions run game, as Kerryon Johnson was limited to 3.1 yards per carry despite the Lions committing to the run. If Arizona can have similar success defending the run, it will be a huge factor in determining the outcome of this game.

What we saw last week from the Raven’s offense is not going to be seen again this season. Not only was Lamar passing at will, opening the game 9-9 with 4 TD, he only ran the ball 3 times for 6 yards. This opens up the Ravens to be incredibly unpredictable against the Cardinals defense.

While there will be a degree of unpredictability, especially play to play, on a macro level we know exactly what this Ravens offense is. Ideally they would like to run the ball the majority of the time, and use the run to set up deep passes. Lamar can chuck it downfield, everyone just saw that. What he hasn’t shown the ability to do is make the intermediate throws.

The Spread

This line opened at Ravens -13 after the look-ahead line opened them as 9.5-point favorites. While the Ravens looked fantastic in week one, can we really take a whole lot away from one game against the NFL’s worst team? A 3.5-point line move is understandable but seems unwarranted.

The line has not budged off 13 as the money wagered has been nearly split down the middle. Currently, 52% of the money is on the Cardinals, while 59% of the bets are on the visiting dogs.

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