Indianapolis Colts vs. Arizona Cardinals Saturday Night Football Preview, Picks, and Betting Guide


Dec 24, 2021

Indianapolis Colts (8-6) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-4)

Date: Saturday, December 25, 2021
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Venue: State Farm Stadium

For the second week in a row, the Indianapolis Colts will be the prime-time Saturday Night Football game, this time taking on the Arizona Cardinals. Injuries and COVID-19 dominate the headlines heading into Week 16, and this matchup is no different. The Cardinals’ injury report is more comprehensive than the Colts’, putting them at a deficit for Saturday night’s contest.

Among those listed on the injury report is starting running back James Conner. Conner has been invaluable to the Cards this season, posting a team-best 16 combined touchdowns but has not yet practiced this week. Kliff Kingsbury reports that Conner will be a game-time decision on Saturday, leaving his playing status unclear. Even if he suits up, we’re not expecting 100% effort from Conner, which could mean more passing sets for Kyler Murray and, if executed properly, more space to take off with the ball.

Murray has taken off with the ball 70 times in 11 games, going for 270 yards, or approximately 6.4 carries per game for 24.5 yards. The former first-round selection could be without Conner and will be without DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was placed on the IR with an MCL tear after last week and, at best, could return for the NFC Championship if the Cards progress that far. The Colts have been susceptible to the run this season, and Murray can make them pay if they drop into pass coverage. We’re betting Murray breaks off at least one good run, paving the way for him to go over 26.5 rushing yards.

Short on offensive weapons, the Cardinals will also turn to their leading receiver to compete against Indianapolis. Christian Kirk was targetted 12 times last week with Hopkins out of the lineup, grabbing nine of those passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. With Conner’s participation in doubt, Kirk could see an even more significant workload in Week 16. FanDuel Sportsbook hasn’t hung any receiver props for Kirk yet, but if his receiving yards prop opens in the 80s and receptions in the mid-naughts, look at taking both overs.

The x-factor shifting the balance in favor of the Colts is running back Jonathan Taylor. The Wisconsin product averages 108.4  rushing yards per game, going north of that average in five of the past six games. On average, Taylor is rushing for 144.8 yards per game, totaling 11 rushing touchdowns over that stretch. Arizona has a below-average rush defense, giving up 112.8 rushing yards per game. Taylor should eclipse his 102.5 rushing yard prop.

Injuries notwithstanding, the Colts have been the better team over their recent sample, winning five of their past six outings and scoring 27 or more points in all but one of those games. The Cards have dropped three of their past five games, posting a -28 point differential. We are riding those trends on two plays for Saturday’s game, taking over 48.5 and the Colts to win outright at +100.

All NFL game predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid

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Thumbnail photo via Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

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