You can’t help but be excited for the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon. We get a rare treat, as Blaine Gabbert and Tom Savage square off in Week 11. For anyone who can’t decipher the difference between sarcasm and reality, I am clearly being sarcastic. There isn’t much on the early slate with regards to home games in the AFC, which if you haven’t noticed, I am responsible for covering at The Sports Geek. The Cardinals must go down the depth chart to find a healthy quarterback.
Carson Palmer went down, next it was Drew Stanton, and now they’re on to Gabbert. Bruce Arians stated that Gabbert isn’t a bad quarterback, he’s just been on some bad teams. Okay, Arians, whatever makes you sleep better at night. If Arians thought he was any good, Gabbert would have been the 2nd stringer. He at least has some starting experience has played well in spots.
Gabbert fortunately doesn’t have to outplay Deshaun Watson on Sunday. He also has the privilege of going against a bad Houston defense. This isn’t the same Texans’ defense we’ve become accustomed of knowing over the last ten years or so. The absence of Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt is pretty clear on the field. When Deshaun Watson was healthy, it became of matter of the Texans having to outscore the opposition in high-scoring shootouts. Now it’s pray and hope the defense can hold up.
If the Texans had an elite defense to help Savage out, his ineptness wouldn’t be as noticeable. However, with their defense having a down year, they’re expecting him to make more plays than he otherwise wouldn’t have to. He threw a touchdown pass last week, only the 2nd of his career. Savage negated that touchdown with 2 interceptions, though. The Texans ultimately fell, 33-7, to the surging LA Rams.
The Texans haven’t won since October 15th and that was against the hapless Cleveland Browns. Their last good win came on October 1st against the Titans, 57-14. Conversely, the Cardinals are coming off a hard fought loss to the Seattle Seahawks, 22-16. They are 1-2 in their last three games, with their only win a 20-10 victory over the 49ers. In review, the last win for the Texans was against the Browns, and the last win for the Cards was against the 49ers, so yeah. We’ll see who comes out on top in the battle of backups in Houston. Head below for our free Cardinals vs. Texans pick.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Houston Texans Betting Odds:
vs. Texans -1.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Cardinals vs. Texans Pick:
This will be the first start for Blaine Gabbert this season. His last start was last year with the San Francisco 49ers. In six appearances, he threw for 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions with a 56.9% completion percentage. His QB rating was a measly 68.4. Gabbert hasn’t thrown a pass yet this season. The best performance you can find from him in 2016 was against the Cowboys, where he threw a touchdown and an interception with a 69.6% completion percentage. It made for his highest QB rating of the year, a 91.9. So, even against bad defenses, he hasn’t really been able to take advantage of the situation.
Carson Palmer is not the first notable Cardinal to go down this year. Running back, David Johnson, of course broke his wrist against the Lions in Week 1. That took away a critical cog in the Arizona offense, and then the kicker was the injury to Palmer. That’s basically their entire offense right there. The injury to Drew Stanton didn’t help any either. The Cardinals are 17th in the NFL, with 332.2 yards per game. They are scoring just 17.2 per game. With Gabbert under center, those numbers look worse than they actually are.
The Cardinals and Gabbert luck out this week, as they will be up against the 23rd best defense in the NFL. They’re 27th against the pass, with 253.8 passing yards allowed per game. I just don’t know if Gabbert is going to be able to exploit their weak secondary, though. It’s exactly where they’ve been having issues this season, defending the deep pass. However, I expect Jadeveon Clowney to be in his face all game long.
The Cardinals rank in the bottom ten with regards to pass defense, points allowed, and forced turnovers. While Gabbert is coming off the bench fresh, at least Savage has some recent playing time under his belt. With this quarterback matchup, it almost feels like I’m handicapping a preseason game. The playoffs are a far-reach for the Cardinals and Texans, so I suppose it’s almost meaningless. It appears the public likes the Cards in this one, slightly more than the Texans. The line movement isn’t indicative of that, though. I wouldn’t put the mortgage on this bet; there are several variables in play here in this game. In any event, the Texans should be able to edge the Cardinals out at home by a score of 20-14 or 20-16.
PICK: TEXANS -1.5 (-110)