The Arizona Cardinals are heavy favorites to improve to 3-0 for the first time in six years, after escaping with a one-point win at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Arizona failed to cover the 3.5-point spread in Sunday’s game against the Vikings at home, though operators remain bullish on the team’s odds this Sunday, when they’ll travel to North Florida to face the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sports betting in Arizona began on Sept. 9.
Week 3 Expectations
The Cardinals, who defeated the Vikings 34-33, are favored by Arizona sportsbooks to beat the winless Jacksonville Jaguars by seven points on Sunday, according to DraftKings Arizona and BetMGM Arizona, while FanDuel Arizona has the Cardinals as a 7.5-point favorite.
The Cardinals and Jaguars will square off at 10 a.m. Arizona time (1 p.m. Eastern) on Sunday, with FOX carrying the contest live nationally.
The Jaguars are coming off consecutive double-digit losses to open the regular season, falling at home to the Denver Broncos, 23-13, this Sunday, after losing to the Houston Texans, 37-21, in Week 1.
Number one overall NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence has had his share of growing pains early in the season for first-year head coach Urban Meyer. Lawrence has completed 50% of his passes for 450 yards, while throwing more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4).
The Jaguars’ run game has seen its share of struggles so far as well, averaging 75.5 yards per game, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
Another mismatch that the Cardinals will look to take advantage of is its relentless pass rush, which has collected seven sacks this season.
Lawrence was sacked once against the Broncos but struggled for most of the day against Denver’s pass rush, finishing with a 30.5 QBR, per ESPN.
Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s defensive schemes are very similar to those of Denver head coach Vic Fangio, meaning Arizona could wreak havoc on Jacksonville’s offensive line come Sunday.
Rare Matchup Between Teams
The Cardinals and Jaguars have faced each other five times, dating to 2000, with Arizona winning each of the past three contests.
The teams’ most recent matchup came on Nov. 26, 2017 — when the Cardinals won on a 57-yard field goal by kicker Phil Dawson as time expired.
That 27-24 Cardinals’ victory was the only one that Arizona has notched against the Jaguars that was close.
The teams’ other matchups in 2013 (a 27-14 Arizona victory) and 2009 (31-17 Cardinals win) were double-digit victories for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals’ two losses to the Jags, in 2005 (24-17) and 2000 (44-10), were similarly one-sided affairs.
How Arizona Got to 2-0
The Cardinals’ victory over the Vikings on Sunday came about on the outsized right arm of Murray, who threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns in the one-point victory.
The team’s win was sealed when Vikings kicker Greg Joseph’s 37-yard attempt drifted wide of the right upright as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the first half, before a kickers' duel broke out in the latter two quarters.
Murray’s 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver A.J. Green in the fourth quarter gave the Cardinals a 31-30 lead. Arizona fell behind by two then regainrd the lead for good on Matt Prater's 27-yard field goal with 4:25 left.
Regardless of how they got to the finish line, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury found enjoyed the way his team fought through the final whistle and praised Murray as well.
"The game is really slowing down for him," Kingsbury said. "He's doing stuff that he did at the collegiate level where he's very confident in (his) legs and moving around, extending plays."