One of the standout matchups of Week 10 is a game between two teams that many football fans didn’t expect to be in contention. The Buffalo Bills, who sit in first place in the AFC East with a 7-2 record, travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals, a surprising 5-3 team tied for second in the NFC West.
Here is a preview for Sunday’s Bills and Cardinals game, complete with a free pick. Arizona is a two-point favorite at home according to the latest odds, while the over/under of 56 points is the highest point total of the week.
Allen Continues to Impress
Winners of three in a row, the Bills are just one of three teams in football to have seven or more wins on the season. Their seventh win was particularly impressive when quarterback Josh Allen’s big day helped spur his team to a 44-34 victory against the Seahawks. Allen finished the day going 31-for-38 with four total touchdowns, while Buffalo’s defense forced Seattle QB Russell Wilson into four turnovers.
The Bills’ offense, which went through a brief stretch of disappointment before bursting through against Seattle, still ranks 13th with 390 yards per game and 14th with just under 27 points per game. They’re doing most of their damage through the air, ranking seventh with 277 yards on average while averaging just over 100 yards rushing.
Statistically, Buffalo’s defense has underperformed given where preseason expectations were. They are allowing 379 yards per contest, 18th in the NFL, while also giving up close to 26 points per week. While their offense has been excellent converting on third downs, their defense has struggled to stop them, allowing opponents to extend drives on 47.5% of third downs. However, the Bills are getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as their 24 sacks rank sixth in the league.
Murray Leading Arizona
Headed into their bye, the Cardinals were also on a three-game winning streak, the last of which was a thrilling Sunday night victory against the Seahawks. However, that streak was snapped on Sunday with a 34-31 loss to the Dolphins. Quarterback Kyler Murray, just like Allen for the Bills, accounted for four total touchdowns while gaining 283 passing yards and 106 rushing yards. It was also the fourth straight game Arizona has reached the 30-point mark.
Through eight games, Arizona has one of the most explosive offenses in football. The Cards are averaging just under 430 yards of total offense, the third-highest mark in the league, and are sixth with 29.3 points per game. Thanks in big part to the likes of Murray, Arizona is second with just under 163 rushing yards per game while also ranking 12th with 259 average passing yards.
The defense has shown a “bend, don’t break” quality in 2020. Despite allowing close to 392 yards per game, a figure that is just 21st in football, the Cardinals are well within the top-10 of points allowed with 22.5. They are somewhat equal in stopping the run versus the pass, ranking 19th and 22nd respectfully, but are also seventh in third-down percentage on defense, as opponents are converting just 38% of third downs against Arizona.
What to Watch For
One key matchup that could be the x-factor in this game is Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins going up against Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. Hopkins has been the game-changing receiver Arizona expected him to be when he was acquired from the Texans during the offseason, pulling down 60 catches for 734 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, White is considered one of the premier shutdown corners in the NFL, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2019. The winner of this matchup should give their team a significant edge into pulling out the victory.
Additionally, these are two offenses that should likely be able to put up points. But defense may be able to win for these teams come Sunday. How will Buffalo contain Murray, particularly when he breaks away from the pocket and takes off running? Conversely, will Arizona limit the length of Buffalo’s drives after giving up a combined 884 yards over their last two games? Look for both teams to blitz heavily and put pressure on the new QBs early and often.
This is deservedly one of the more highly-anticipated games of the week, complete with two young and exciting quarterbacks on both sides of the football. For Sunday, I expect the 56 points to be eclipsed, and while I like Arizona a lot, Buffalo looks a little more complete right now.
During their three-game winning streak, the Bills have four interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 13 sacks. If they can keep that going, those are the game-changing plays needed to pull off close victories. Give me the Bills to cover and win.
Pick: Bills +2