Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals are the NFL’s last unbeaten team, and by the looks of Caesars Sportsbook odds, there is very little chance of that distinction changing today. In a game that opened with the Cardinals as 17-point home favorites over the Houston Texans, that number has ballooned up to -20 as of Sunday afternoon. Apparently the news that Arizona will have Kliff Kingsbury on the sideline after the coach passed COVID-19 protocol has bettors even more confident in the 6-0 club.
As stat geek R.J. White of SportsLine points out, there are just 15 NFL games with spreads of at least 19.5 in the Stathead database, starting with the 1985 Bears going off as 19.5-point favorites against the Colts. Those massive favorites are just 4-11 ATS in that span. However, two of the covers happened in the three instances of a spread this large over the last three seasons, with the Chiefs covering as 20-point favorites against the Jets last year and the Cowboys covering as 22-point favorites against the Dolphins in Week 3 of 2019. That same week, the Patriots failed to cover as 20.5-point favorites in a win over the Jets.
Given how the season has gone so far, it isn’t a surprise the Texans-Cardinals spread is so high. The Texans have lost five straight road games, the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. Houston has the worst point differential in the NFL this season (-80) and has been held to single digits three times in six games this season. Against a Cardinals defense that has allowed the third-fewest points in the league, the odds aren’t in the Texans’ favor.
The Cardinals are also third in the NFL with 13 takeaways this season while the Texans have the fourth-most giveaways with 11. That has helped Arizona generate the fourth-highest scoring offense in the league at 32.3 points per game. The Cardinals offense is pretty good as well behind the MVP-caliber play of Kyler Murray, who has completed a league-high 73.8% of his passes for 1,741 yards, 14 touchdowns, and four interceptions for a 116.2 passer rating. Arizona has enough offensive playmakers to take Houston out of the game early with the arm of Murray.
The Texans have allowed 25 completions of 20+ yards this season, the sixth-most in the NFL, and 16% of Murray’s attempts have been 20+ yards downfield, which is the sixth-highest percentage in the league. His 8.93 yards per attempt is the third-highest in the NFL, proving the Cardinals prefer to attack their opponents in the passing game.
The large spread may make some bettors wary of taking Arizona -20, but the numbers are there to signify a Cardinals have a huge advantage in this one.