A quick look at the NFL standings seems to indicate the Week 8 “Thursday Night Football” showdown between the 6-1 Green Bay Packers and 7-0 Arizona Cardinals will be one of the games of the season.
While that might ultimately be the case, a weird week for both teams has lessened the anticipation of the Week 8 kickoff just a little bit. For the Packers, a small COVID-19 outbreak not only means they won’t have defensive coordinator Joe Barry with them, but Green Bay also will be without its top two wide receivers: Allen Lazard and All-Pro Davante Adams. On the other side, star Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins technically is questionable (but almost certainly will play) and J.J. Watt will miss the game as his season likely is over due to a shoulder injury.
All of that being said, you can’t completely rule out Thursday night being an instant classic, not when you have a quarterback matchup featuring Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray. That alone is worth the price of admission, not to mention we sat through Denver Broncos-Cleveland Browns last week.
Here’s a quick betting preview for “Thursday Night Football.” The line, total and props are from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Green Bay Packers at (-6.5) Arizona Cardinals
These have been two of the most profitable teams in the NFL this season. Both the Packers and the Cardinals are 6-1 against the spread. The absence of Adams is the biggest pregame storyline, but the Packers have performed impressively without their No. 1 receiver. With Rodgers under center, the Packers have won nine of 11 games without Adams, going 8-3 ATS. That overall number is even better in the Matt LaFleur era, with Green Bay winning all six games without Adams dating back to 2019, averaging 33 points per game. Perhaps this is purely coincidental, but the Cardinals are 11-2 ATS in October games under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Arizona typically has taken care of business as favorites of a touchdown or more under Kingsbury, going 6-2 straight-up and ATS since he took over. It almost goes without saying, however, it never was against a quarterback as good as Rodgers. Green Bay also has done well on short rest recently, going 12-4 ATS with six days of rest or less since the beginning of 2020.
First-half line, total
Arizona -3.5, 24.5
First touchdown scorer
Aaron Jones +650
James Conner +800
DeAndre Hopkins +800
Kyler Murray +1000
Zach Ertz +1200
Randall Cobb +1400
Robert Tonyan +1400
Aaron Rodgers over/under 265.5 yards
Kyler Murray over/under 274.5 yards
Aaron Jones over/under 63.5 yards
A.J. Dillon over/under 31.5 yards
Chase Edmonds over/under 46.5 yards
James Conner over/under 45.5 yards
DeAndre Hopkins over/under 63.5 yards
A.J. Green over/under 45.5 yards
Christian Kirk over/under 63.5 yards
Randall Cobb over/under 51.5 yards
Aaron Jones over/under 44.5 yards
Randall Cobb over 4.5 receptions (-115)
As mentioned, the Packers are down two receivers. Not only that, their inconsistent defense, without its coordinator, is tasked with slowing one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. It’s possible the Packers hand off to Jones and Dillon 50 times, but short of that plan working to perfection, it’s likely Green Bay will be chasing points at some point Thursday night. To do that, Rodgers will have to throw the ball, and there are few if any receivers he trusts more than Cobb. The veteran wideout has seen his work limited in his return to Green Bay, but if there ever was a time to cut him loose, it’s Thursday night. Even if he doesn’t figure prominently into the early game plan, you have to figure if the Packers are trailing, there will be a lot of hurry-up with a lot of plays run. That just maximizes Cobb’s chances to haul in passes. For what it’s worth, Cobb has exceeded 4.5 catches once this season, bringing in five of six targets for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Pittsburgh in Week 4. For Green Bay to have any shot, it likely needs a similar showing or better from Cobb in the desert.