Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints Preview and Pick

NFL Football Betting Preview
Arizona Cardinals (10-6) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Saturday January 16th, 2010 4:30PM Eastern betting line – Saints -7, 57 ½ O/U

The Arizona Cardinals appeared to have magic on their side yet again as they took down the Green Bay Packers in one of the highest scoring games in postseason history 51-45 in overtime. The Cardinals appear to be carrying the perception they did last year at this time as a dangerous underdog. The Cardinals offense has been its best in the postseason over the last two years, but now Arizona will take on the NFL’s top offense in the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had a first round bye so they will be plenty rested after finishing the year with the best record in the NFC at 13-3. However, all of the Saints defeats came in the last 3 weeks of the season and it will be interesting to see if they can relocate their swagger.

The Cardinals defense come up big on a few key plays intercepting Aaron Rodgers very first pass and Karlos Dansby recovered a fumble while running it back for a touchdown on the final play of the game. In between those big plays, the Cardinals secondary gave up plenty of big plays as the game turned into a quarterback dual between Rodgers and Kurt Warner. Rodgers was sensational after the pick racking up 422 yards against the Cardinals defense that just looked very confused too often. The pass defense will be the main concern this weekend as everyone knows that the Saints attack through the air more often than any team in the league. The Saints offense led the NFL for most of the season before sliding in their final few games to 272 yards per game. However, their passing attack led by Drew Brees is among the best there is and they will surely give the Cardinals defense tons of trouble if they play like they did last week.

Even if the Cardinals defense struggles, they still have QB Kurt Warner on their side. Warner proved again last week why he should be Hall of Fame bound as one of the best quarterbacks when it comes playoffs time. Warner completed 29 of 33 passing for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns. That is 88% passing with more touchdowns than incomplete passes, which is simply amazing. The Cardinals will definitely need a lot of offense again this week to pull of the upset. WR Anquan Boldin is still hampering an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s win against the Packers. While that definitely hurts, it is manageable if the Cardinals get WR Steve Breaston to have another big game. Breaston caught 7 passes for 125 yards to pick up the empty space by Boldin and they need another similar effort. Of course you can never forget about Larry “Mr. Playoffs” Fitzgerald as well, Fitzgerald caught 6 passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers may be a bit off from his record setting pace from last year, but as long as he continues to grab touchdown passes the Cardinals will be fine.

The Saints offense as previously mentioned made defenses look like really bad earlier this year, but the passing offense burned out a bit down the stretch. Brees threw for 4,300 plus yards while completing 70% passing with 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season. However, the passing offense was not as efficient in their last few games. Hopefully the Saints can dial up the high power offense again and provide some fireworks. They definitely have the wide receivers to cause all kind of trouble for the Arizona defense.

WR Marques Colston eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark this season along with 9 touchdowns. Also, receivers Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem both combined for 1,500 additional yards and 11 scores. If these guys can find holes early and keep the Arizona safeties on their heels they can really do some damage. However, their success will likely ride on the play of the offensive line. Brees has been protected very well this year, but the Cardinals defensive front is playing well. It is imperative that Brees have time to throw the football or they are doomed. Remember the Cowboys defensive pressure up front ended their shot at a perfect season and they do not need to let another solid defensive front have their way again.

Pick – The Cardinals have reached the under in 5 of their last 7 games and I think the lines are a bit too high following last week’s shootout with the Packers. I’m leaning towards the under here and believe the Cardinals will also keep it within the points as well.

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