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Cardinals almost unanimous pick over Panthers in Week 3

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals walk off the field during the NFL preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Chargers 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

For the first time since Week 11 of the 2018 season, the Arizona Cardinals are going into a game as the favorites.

That contest featured a Josh Rosen-led Cardinals side that fell to the then-one win Oakland Raiders in a 23-21 loss at home.

Going into Sunday’s game against the winless Carolina Panthers, Arizona is favorited by 2.5 points, according to Bovada.

The opening line originally picked Carolina as three-point favorites, but due to former MVP quarterback Cam Newton being ruled out with a foot injury, oddsmakers are now ruling in favor of the Cardinals.

Scottsdale Desert Mountain product Kyle Allen — who beat out Murray in their time at Texas A&M — will be making his second career NFL start in place of the injured Newton.

But sportsbooks aren’t the only ones picking Arizona to win on Sunday, as almost every national pundit has picked the Cardinals to win their first game of the 2019 season and Kyler Murray-Kliff Kingsbury era.

Of the 23 combined predictions by NFL experts and analysts at USA Today, CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus, 19 picked Arizona to get the job done against the Panthers.

Other national pundits provided a little more insight as to why they believe the Cardinals will improve their record to 1-1-1 in Week 3.

NFL.com

Gregg Rosenthal writes that Arizona will be 24-21 victors, adding that Sunday’s matchup with the Panthers is a “prime chance” for Murray to get his first NFL win and Cardinals fans should be “very excited” about the future.

Kyler Murray has already transformed the Cardinals. They’ve gone from the worst offense in football to 12th in scoring and yardage despite bringing back nearly the same offensive line, the same top two receivers and the same running backs as last season. Larry Fitzgerald didn’t have a single catch over 40 yards in the last three years; he already has four this season.

ESPN

Of the ten analysts, seven project a Cardinals victory, including Josh Weinfuss predicting a 31-17 win for Arizona. He noted that the key to the Cardinals’ success will be improving upon their abysmal 31st-ranked red zone offense this season (2-of-8).

How the Cardinals perform in the red zone will determine whether they win this game. Quarterback Kyler Murray will continue to pile up yards between the 20s, but this weekend might be different. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has shown he can adapt as a play-caller, and Week 3 will be another chance for him to adjust to the NFL.

Sporting News

Tadd Haislop writes that the Cardinals will win Sunday’s contest 23-14, adding that Arizona’s running game is the key to improving upon its 0-1-1 record.

The Panthers are desperate for a good offensive showing, and a seemingly improved but still-leaky (and still Patrick Peterson-less) Cardinals defense might allow just that. Carolina’s revamped defense, though, has struggled through its first two games, and David Johnson will take advantage.

Bleacher Report

Brad Gagnon writes that Arizona’s ability to compete with the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens is the reason that Bleacher Report is unanimously predicting a 24-16 Cardinals victory.

Even with Newton, the Panthers haven’t been right this year. They laid a complete egg at home against the Bucs, and the defense has just four sacks and one takeaway. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense has been moving the ball well ever since a slow start to Kyler Murray’s rookie season. They got inside the Baltimore five-yard line on four separate drives last week, and they should do a better job finishing with another week of work under their belt, at home against a weaker defense.

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