The Arizona Cardinals can match the best start in franchise history by beating Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sunday.
The Cardinals (5-0) last started a season with six straight victories in 1974, a year in which the then-St. Louis Cardinals finished 10-4 and qualified for the NFL playoffs for the first time in 26 years.
This year’s Cardinals squad is in position to make the postseason for the first time in six years, with a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West. In getting off to the fast start, the team has become the toast of Arizona NFL betting sites.
The Cardinals’ clash with the Browns will kick off at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time Sunday, with FOX carrying the game live nationally.
Cardinals Slight Underdogs Against Browns
The Cardinals are unanimously tabbed as the underdog by Arizona sports betting sites BetMGM Arizona, DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona and FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona — with all three listing Arizona at +3.
That’s probably just fine with coach Kliff Kingsbury, given his team is 2-0 this season as an underdog at Arizona sportsbooks — blasting the Tennessee Titans (38-13 when +2.5) and the Rams (37-20 when +3.5).
Arizona is 4-1 against the spread this season, its lone failure to cover coming in a one-point win over Minnesota at home in Week 2 — when the Cardinals were 2.5-point favorites.
The Cardinals’ yearlong performance has caught the attention of oddsmakers, such as WynnBET lead trader Matt Lindeman.
Lindeman called Arizona one of the surprises of the NFL season on a company podcast this week.
“If you told me the Cardinals were going to be laying six against (San Francisco) in the preseason, I would have told you you're crazy,” Lindeman said of Arizona’s line in last week’s 17-10 victory over the 49ers. “I just did not see that coming. So, in this game, if they continue to improve, I think you could see things coming together.
“They're really taking that next step. But I just wish they could do it in a year where we don't move into Arizona three weeks before. It is all Arizona money all the time, all Cardinals money all the time. And we can't beat them.”
Can Kyler Murray Outduel Baker Mayfield?
Another storyline to watch Sunday will be the clash between two former University of Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winners, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield.
The former has been a frontrunner in NFL MVP betting most of the season, with Murray sitting second in BetMGM’s most valuable player race at +500.
Murray ranks behind Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen (+450) at BetMGM, while the pair are tied atop FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona’s MVP leaderboard at +450.
Mayfield, meanwhile, has put together a strong start to his fourth season in the NFL, throwing for 1,240 yards and four touchdowns.
The fourth-year QB put up his best effort of the season Sunday, completing 23-of-32 passes for 305 yards and two scores (with no interceptions) in the Browns’ 47-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Both will enter the Week 6 showdown in fine form, as the two ex-Sooners square off for the first time in their NFL careers.
Meet the Cleveland Browns
The Browns are 3-2, having beaten the Houston Texans (31-21), Chicago Bears (26-6) and Minnesota Vikings (14-7); while falling to the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs (33-29).
Cleveland has one of the league’s most balanced offenses, averaging 248 passing yards and 187.6 rushing yards per game.
Much of that balance is due to the performance of fourth-year running back Nick Chubb, who’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
Chubb ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards with 523, and fourth in the league in rushing attempts with 90.
Chubb’s exploits have propelled the Browns into the No. 1 spot in the NFL in rushing yards per game, which will put Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s unit to the test.
The Cardinals have surrendered 139 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 28th in the league.
One way or another, we’ll know a lot more about where each team stands come Sunday afternoon on the banks of Lake Erie.