Free NFL Pick: Arizona at Kansas City 11-21-2010

November 17, 2010


Arizona Cardinals at Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday November 21st, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Kansas City -8


Todd Haley embarrassed himself last week when he refused to shake the hand of Denver head coach Josh McDaniels. He got beat. This is the NFL. Teams don’t need to take it easy on you, especially when they are underdogs coming into the game. The 5-4 Chiefs have suffered back to back losses to put them at 2-4 in their last six games. They remain undefeated at home this season, which is not good news for the Arizona Cardinals.

The 3-6 Cardinals have lost four in a row and are 1-4 on the road this season. Last week, they were in a position to sit on top of the NFC West with a 4-5 record, had they knocked off Seattle. As it stands, they are at the bottom of the lowly NFC West, underachieving with no sign of recovery anywhere.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Chiefs are the number one rushing offense in the NFL, which most of us know by this point in the season. Much like the Jaguars, eventually teams start to load up the box and take that away, even if it means leaving themselves vulnerable to the pass. The Chiefs took advantage of the loose coverage and Dwayne Bowe had a huge game, grabbing 13 catches for 186 yards two touchdowns in a loss. When the Chiefs are completely shut down in the run game, which hasn’t happened very often, they need to resort to the pass sooner rather than later. They can’t wait until they are down to 35 to resort to something else. If the Cardinals shut down the run, which is unlikely, that means the pass is likely wide open. Cassel can get the job done with eight in the box, which will make defenses play more honestly and open up the run.
  • Matt Leinart has to think the quarterback situation is hilarious in Arizona. The Cardinals easily have the worst quarterback situation in the NFC West, which speaks volumes because the bar is not very high. Derek Anderson is the field general, but with a six touchdown to eight interception ratio, the Cardinals can’t feel very good about who they have under center. They tried starting undrafted rookie free agent Max Hall, to no avail. The job is Andersons for the moment, but it doesn’t look like he will be leading the Cardinals anywhere. The quarterback play in Arizona is erratic, to say the least. The Chiefs could have a field day on defense.
  • Eric Berry looked like he was back on track, posting two games with a pick and having two sacks in the following game. He took a giant leap backwards against Denver, though the entire Kansas City defense took one with him. Berry is a playmaker. The Chiefs drafted him to be all over the field and be a difference maker on defense. Nothing is going to bolster his confidence more than recovering from last week with a big game this week. Derek Anderson looks suspect at times and Berry shouldn’t find himself out of position like he did against the Broncos complex passing attack. Expect Berry to have a big day.
  • Adrian Wilson gave a refreshing assessment of his play this season. When asked of how he thought he had performed this season, he responded, “Like $%#^.” Too many athletes hide from their own inadequacies. Wilson has been a staple in the Cardinals defense. He knows the fans see him struggling and the first step to getting back on track is to admit his own faults. The Cardinals and Wilson are better than they have shown. They looked severely out of sorts in the Seattle game and it is nice to hear Wilson own up to his lack luster performance. Wilson is a big time hitter. When you get a guy with that sort of physicality frustrated, there are bound to be some collisions. If nothing else, Cardinals fans can expect Wilson to punish someone for his own inadequacies.

Key Matchup:

Larry Fitzgerald Vs. The Chiefs

  • The Cardinals cannot run, stop the run, pass, or stop the pass. The shining star on their offense is Larry Fitzgerald and they finally figured out how to get the ball in his hands. He has posted two big games in a row, posting 91 and 107 yards. Derek Anderson hasn’t suddenly flicked on the switch and been more accurate in his attempts toward Fitzgerald, the Cardinals are just throwing at him more. Fitzgerald was targeted 15 times on Sunday.
  • The Chiefs can expect the ball to come to Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals struggle on offense in just about every aspect of their game, so the Chiefs can expect the Cardinals to throw the ball to Fitzgerald even when it isn’t available. The Chiefs need to keep Fitzgerald from getting rolling, though it is a tall task, given the number of times he is utilized and his talent.

Wrap Up:

It looked like the Cardinals were poised to take down the Seahawks, but they are back at square one. The quarterback situation is laughable and the defense is mediocre at best. The Cardinals need to stop the bleeding. There is a difference between being a team in transition and being a team that is in peril. The Cardinals are headed into Arrowhead, which is a difficult place to play for any quarterback. The Chiefs looked horrendous last week, but they can get back on track this week. Todd Haley got his feelings hurt last week. Look for him to run up the score this week if he gets a chance to.

Free NFL Pick: Kansas City -8

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