After prevailing in a high-profile prime-time matchup at Seattle last weekend, the Arizona Cardinals face another daunting change when they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night in a battle of division leaders. It will mark only the second home game in an eight-game span for Arizona, which has won three straight to open a three-game lead in the NFC West.
Cincinnati may have got caught looking ahead to Arizona in a 10-6 loss to Houston on Monday night that ended its perfect 8-0 start to the season. “We just have to put this one behind us,” Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said. “We can’t let this turn into another one. We can’t let there be any carry over.” Cincinnati still holds a 2 1/2-game lead over Pittsburgh atop the AFC North as it prepares for a matchup with ex-Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who was traded in 2011 after a bitter standoff with team management. “It’s not just another game,” said Palmer, who will lead Arizona’s top-ranked offense against a defense permitting an NFL-low 16.9 points.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Cardinals as 3.5-point home faves, but that has moved to -4.5. The total is up to 48.5 from the opening 47.
Bengals – DE Carlos Dunlap (Probable, shoulder), S Shawn Williams (Probable, ankle), T Andre Smith (Probable, concussion), DT Marcus Hardison (Questionable, knee), DE Michael Johnson (Doubtful, back), CB Adam Jones (Doubtful, foot), DT Pat Sims (Doubtful, knee), LB Sean Porter (I-R, knee), WR James Wright (I-R, knee), T Cedric Ogbuehi (I-R, knee).
Cardinals – WR Larry Fitzgerald (Probable, ankle), CB Justin Bethel (Probable, illness), G Mike Iupati (Probable, neck), LB Markus Golden (Questionable, ankle), WR John Brown (Questionable, hamstring), WR Michael Floyd (Questionable, hamstring), DE Cory Redding (Out, ankle), G Jonathan Cooper (Out, knee), LB Daryl Washington (Out indefinitely, suspension), LB Kenny Demens (I-R, knee), TE Ifeanyi Momah (I-R, knee), DT Corey Peters (I-R, Achilles), TE Gerald Christian (I-R, knee).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Bengals (-6) + Cardinals (-5) + home field (-3.0) = Cardinals -2
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “It”s like clockwork. Get Andy Dalton in a big game under the lights and he forgets how to play quarterback. Same story with Marvin Lewis and his ability to coach! Arizona’s protection schemes broke down after lineman Mike Iupati was carted off the field on Sunday Night. The good news for Zona is that he could be back on the field by Sunday.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (8-1 SU, 7-1-1 ATS, 5-4 O/U): Dalton had been a model of efficiency during the first eight games, but he was held under 200 yards and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time while getting sacked four times on Monday. Running back Jeremy Hill has been unable to follow up on his stellar rookie season, failing to reach the end zone during a five-game span in which he’s rushed for 196 yards. A.J. Green remains Dalton’s favorite target with 55 receptions, while Cincinnati’s defense has racked up 26 sacks and held each of its last three opponents to 10 points.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS, 7-2 O/U): Palmer, who is second in the league with 23 scoring passes, overcame three turnovers to direct two fourth-quarter touchdown drives of at least 80 yards to knock off the Seahawks. While Larry Fitzgerald already has 65 catches, Arizona has injury concerns at wideout as Michael Floyd missed his second day of practice and John Brown was limited Thursday due to hamstring injuries. The Cardinals have recorded only 15 sacks, but they have a secondary capable of matching up with Green and Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (9 TDs).
* Bengals are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Cardinals are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games.
* Over is 8-2 in Cardinals last 10 games overall.
* Under is 7-0 in Bengals last seven games in November.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-six percent of Covers users are backing the Cardinals.