Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Arizona +7 over Washington
1:00 PM EST. There is actually A LOT going on in what might look like a sleepy game on the board, and so we’re going to get right to it and take a close look at this contest. So, let’s start with the Commanders, or Football Team, or Red…, well, you get the idea, as there is no team in this league with less of an identity than the one that currently wears Burgundy and Gold and has beautiful offices in Ashburn, Virginia.
Washington football is set to go through more changes if new part-owner Magic Johnson is to be believed, as he said as much when the group he is the face of bought the team. Early word was that Washington was considering taking a step back and going with the pretty damn racist moniker it desperately clung onto for decades, but thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed, and majority owner Mitchell Rales told a group of 700 at a D.C. dinner that the new owners would be looking for a new identity and that it would not be forged in the former Red-you-know-whats. That’s a relief because for much of its existence, at least since their last great run in the early 1990s, Washington football's identity was wrapped up in one sentiment, “our name isn’t racist, bro,” which is to say, it had no identity at all. Perhaps one day that will change, but for now, it appears that the lack of identity will be the status quo.
Now, over to the Cardinals sideline, where 2023 has already been written off by pretty much everyone from the pundits to the pick sellers and everyone in between, as Arizona will be without Kyler Murray in new head coach Jonathan Gannon’s first season as the man in charge. We know expectations are low, as the Cards have the lowest season win total on the board at 4½, which is a full two games less than both the Rams, Texans, Panthers, and Colts, who are all in the 6½-win range or thereabouts. The point is, the Red Birds are expected to be dregs, and they are priced as such.
When a team is so wholly undervalued because of an injury, as the Cards are, we are presented with the opportunity to take back inflated points in a game those inflated points have no business being offered up in. For some perspective, the Texans are nearly a double-digit dog (+9½) at the time of this writing in their game at Baltimore. Now, nobody is comparing the Ravens to the Commanders, and we’re sure if those two teams played on a neutral field, the Ravens would be spotting much more than a field goal, yet, for some reason, the ‘Manders are better than a touchdown to the Cards. We appreciate that math isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly close enough to make our point, which is that Washington cannot be spotting points in this range to any team in this league, the Arizona Cardinals included.
If the inflated points weren’t enough, the total in this game is a Week 1 low of 38 (at the time of posting), which is not conducive to one team covering a significant spread, which this line most certainly is. So much has to go right for Washington, who have an unproven commodity at QB in Sam Howell, just as the Cards have an unproven QB in Joshua Dobbs, although if he struggles, the always rock-steady Colt McCoy is right behind him. Howell has a veteran to back him up too, but the Commanders and more specifically head coach Ron Rivera are content to let the kid sink or swim so they may see if they have their future franchise QB on the roster.
Finally, we want you to picture a scenario where one has a ticket on the Commanders to cover this inflated price in a game with a low total, where the Cardinals, gosh forbid, actually score first. Now, that is scary enough, but we’re moving into the spooky season, so we know you can handle it, so we want you to visualize a future where Arizona goes up maybe 7 or hell, even 10 points. It’s not likely, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and if that were to happen, that ticket where the ‘Manders are spotting better than a touchdown becomes a very tough swim back to shore.
Last season, the biggest price the Commanders spotted in a game was -4½ over the Giants, and they lost that game outright by 12 points. In 2021, Washington was never a -7-point favorite. In 2020, the Football Team was favored just once by -1 and they lost to the Jets by 17. In fact, the last time you can find a game that the former Football Team was favored by -7-points or more was in the 2016 season. To hammer that point home one more time—who the f**k is Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick, to be spotting a price like this?
History, while it does not repeat itself, it often rhymes, and that rhyme is not on the Commanders' side here in Week 1. There is only one wager to be made on this game, and it’s one where one has to hold their noses and take the visiting Cardinals.
Arizona +7 -108 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)