When the Packers travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals to open Week 8 of the 2021 NFL schedule on “Thursday Night Football” (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video), they will try to pull off the upset with personnel challenges.
Green Bay (6-1) hasn’t lost since a bad performance against New Orleans in Jacksonville in Week 1, but it will be without quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. Davante Adams won’t play after landing on the COVID-19 list, and fellow wide receiver Allen Lazard, coming on of late, also won’t be cleared.
The Cardinals (7-0) also come in banged up with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) and J.J. Watt (shoulder) fighting through short-week injuries following the Week 7 rout of their former team, the Texans. But Kyler Murray (right finger) will be at full strength to duel Rodgers.
Here’s everything to know about betting on Packers vs. Cardinals in Week 8, including updated odds, trends and our expert’s prediction for “Thursday Night Football.”
WEEK 8 NFL PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
Packers vs. Cardinals odds for ‘Thursday Night Football’
- Spread: Cardinals by 6.5
- Over/under: 50.5
- Moneyline: Packers +235, Cardinals -290
The line started at only 3.5 points given these are two powerhouse contending teams from the NFC with their mighty records. Neither team has a loss from Week 2 to now. The Packers’ COVID-19 situation on top of their injury issues increased the number by a field goal. That should only make it easier to side with Green Bay.
(betting odds per FanDuel Sportsbook)
Packers vs. Cardinals all-time series
The teams have played plenty in NFC action over the years and the Packers hold the advantage, 45-26-4. The Cardinals have won three consecutive games in the series, however, including a 26-20 overtime playoff win after the 2015 season in which Rodgers’ Hail Mary effort fell short. Before that stretch, the Packers had won three of four and seven of nine.
Three trends to know
—Nearly 55 percent of spread bettors have enjoyed that number going up higher to feel better about going with the Packers to cover on the road.
—A whopping 82 percent of over/under bettors think that relatively high TNF point total is too low and believe in the offenses more than the defenses.
—The Packers are 8-2 against the spread and 8-2 straight up in their past 10 games with half of those games going over. The Cardinals are 7-3 ATS and 8-2 SU in their past 10 games with the total going over four times. So something will need to give with the numbers.
Three things to watch
The Packers’ running game with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon
Jones and Dillon were slowed last week against Washington but have been a big part of Green Bay’s success as the 1-2 rushing punch out of the backfield. The Cardinals’ run defense is beatable, ranked No. 18 in the NFL in giving up an average of 115.7 yards rushing per game. They will be key with the passing game limited and also to help keep Murray off the field and the defense exposed with a ball-control approach.
The Cardinals’ running game with Chase Edmonds and James Conner
Edmonds and Conner have played off each other well with quickness and power for Arizona. The Cardinals can throw the ball around the park, but they are a running team at heart still and this duo has allowed Murray to not need to run nearly as often to move the ball. The Packers’ run defense is No. 22, allowing on average 120.9 rushing yards per game.
Who will step up for Adams and Hopkins?
Adams and Lazard not playing will mean Rodgers’ trusts more in tight end Robert Tonyan and old reliable slot man Randall Cobb. The wild card is whether a youngster such as rookie Amari Rodgers or Equanimeous St.-Brown can provide a big-play element. The Cardinals have plenty of guys to pick up the slack for a hobbled Hopkins, led by A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and tight end Zach Ertz.
Stat that matters
125.2. That’s Rodgers’ passer rating in his past six games without Adams as his top wide receiver. He has completed 71.2 percent of his pass attempts with 1,865 total yards with 17 TD passes to only one interception. The Packers are 6-0 in those games.
Packers vs. Cardinals prediction
Rodgers will do his thing to keep Green Bay in it despite his shorthanded status also knowing Jones and Dillon can help ease the pressure on the ground. But the Packers’ pass defense has too many holes to exploit for Murray not to ensure his team wins a fun shootout given his superior, deeper weapons.
Cardinals 27, Packers 24