Free NFL Pick: Denver at Arizona 12-12-2010

December 12, 2010

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Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals

Sunday December 12th, 2010 4:15 PM EST

Line: Denver -4

Overview:

The Arizona Cardinals are 3-9 this season. They have lost seven in a row and struggle at being effective at virtually anything. They have lost back-to-back home games and look poised to drop their third straight. Their matchup against the Carolina Panthers is shaping up to be a good one in the coming weeks. For now, they need to focus on holding off the 3-9 Broncos.

It is hard to comprehend how Josh McDaniels could ruin the Broncos the way he did in such a short amount of time. He traded away Peyton Hillis, drove Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler out of town, drafted Tim Tebow in the first round, etc. The Broncos are in a hole at this point and it is unclear how they will dig their way out. With the releasing of McDaniels, beating another team who has struggled would be a good way to build some confidence going forward.

Keys to the Game:

  • John Skelton is getting the start for Arizona. Skelton will be the second rookie quarterback to start for the Cardinals this season. The Cardinals feel the ill effects of prematurely cutting Matt Leinart every single day. It is unclear what Skelton will be able to do, but he can’t do any worse than Derek Anderson and Max Hall. The Cardinals have a terrible run game and an even worse passing game. Skelton’s main objective on Sunday is going to be to find a way to get Larry Fitzgerald involved in the offense again.
  • Larry Fitzgerald is an elite receiver, though his numbers this season would say otherwise. Fitzgerald is mourning the loss of his grandfather. When a tragedy occurs, it puts football into perspective. Fitzgerald is struggling on the football field, because his team was irresponsible with the quarterback situation in the off season. It will be interesting to see how Fitzgerald responds to carrying the weight of a death on his shoulders, as it will probably be difficult for him to focus on the game of football.
  • Brandon Lloyd has rewarded fantasy owners this season, but that’s about all his numbers are good for. When a team becomes pass happy, and the Broncos clearly have, the offense usually has trouble moving the ball. By constantly passing the ball, a team is likely to see more instances where they face third and long or 2nd and 10, rather than 2nd and 6 or 3rd and 3. By running the ball well, the game becomes more managable. Taking shots down the field to Brandon Lloyd works sometimes, but more often than not the Broncos fail to establish any sort of rhythm.
  • Joey Porter is questionable, which won’t bode well for the Cardinals, who struggle at getting to the quarterback as is. The Cardinals made an interesting decision when they parted ways with big time defenders Antrelle Rolle and Karlos Dansby. The Cardinals need someone, whether it be Darnelle Docket, Adrian Wilson, or Kerry Rhodes, to step up and take leadership over the defense.

Key Matchup:

Knowshon Moreno Vs. Cardinals front seven

  • The loss to Kansas City was painful, but the Broncos were within striking distance for the entire game. The main reason was because their defense didn’t allow the Chiefs to dominate them on the ground, and Knowshon Moreno had 161 yards on the ground. The Cardinals are terrible at defending the run and the pass. If the Broncos can get going with the run game early on, their pass game will become an effective contribution to their offense, rather than the offense in its entirety.

Wrap Up:

The Cardinals, quite frankly, could be the worst team in the league. Their game against the Panthers will be interesting, but I have a feeling this one will not be so. It hangs on the performance of Johns Skelton. The Broncos don’t really have anyone to rattle him, but with the experience the Broncos have in their secondary, he is bound to make some poor decisions.

I like the Broncos to win by at least a touchdown. I think Lloyd will have a huge day and if Moreno can get going, this could get ugly in a hurry.

Free NFL Pick: Denver -4


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