San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals
Date and Time: Monday, 9/8/14 at 10:30pm on ESPN
Game Line: Arizona Cardinals -3 (from WagerWeb)
Chargers at Cardinals Monday Night NFL Football Analysis: Philip Rivers looked rejuvenated in 2013 as he led the Chargers back to the playoffs and in 2014 he’s trying to take them even farther while the Cardinals were just edged out of the playoff picture last season. With one of the leagues best offenses from a season ago basically intact, the visiting Chargers look to start strong as they open the season in Phoenix. San Diego opened 5-7 before closing the 2013 regular season with four consecutive wins and sneaking into the playoffs. The Chargers cruised to a 27-10 wild card win at Cincinnati, their first postseason victory since 2008, before falling 24-17 to eventual AFC champion Denver in the divisional round. Much of San Diego’s success was due to Rivers, who was named comeback player of the year thanks to completing an NFL high and career best 69.5 percent of his passes. The veteran also finished fourth in the league with a 105.5 passer rating, throwing for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns. While the Chargers averaged 393.3 yards to rank fifth in the league, Rivers believes they could become all the more dangerous in the second year of coach Mike McCoy’s system. The Cardinals are coming off just their second 10 win season in the 26 years they’ve been in Arizona but failed to make the playoffs after finishing third in the highly competitive NFC West. They went 6-2 at home while allowing 17.8 points per game. If they’re going to take the next step it’s going to be on the offensive side of the ball, where a mediocre run game and a below average passing game was the biggest reason they didn’t make the playoffs last season. Running back Andre Ellington should get a much bigger workload in 2014 after showing a lot of promise last season with 1,023 total yards from scrimmage as a rookie last season and averaging an NFL best 5.53 per carry. However, Ellington was hurt in practice Thursday and didn’t participate Friday, though the Cardinals aren’t revealing the severity of the injury or if he will play in this game. This game will be a matchup of the Chargers offense against the Cardinals defense and while both teams have great promise in 2014, we will pick the grinding, hard hitting, defensive team at home to start the season.
Monday Night Football Free NFL Picks: Arizona -3 and under 46
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Game Prediction: 26-17 Cardinals
What to expect in this Week 1 NFL Football match up: The Cardinals will keep the ball out of Philip Rivers hands by running the ball and using as much clock as they can on offense to slow the tempo and keep their defense on the sideline. Carson Palmer will only have to manage the game, it won’t fall on his shoulders to make a big play as the defense will keep San Diego off balance offensively for much of the game. All Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson will take away a big chunk of what San Diego wants to do offensively and while both of these teams will be competing for the playoffs, we will side with the stronger defense at home.