Seattle (+9.0) @ Dallas
Power rankings: Seattle 12, Dallas 4
Hand up on this one. I completely forgot we wagered a Thursday Night game, and so did Dom. I texted Dom as the Cowboys were taking knees that we were 1-0 this week, and he revealed to me that he also completely forgot we had our actual hard earned dollars on the game despite watching the entire thing. It's a good thing we work for the model, because we're both idiots.
Arizona @ Pittsburgh (-5.5)
Power rankings: Arizona 30, Pittsburgh 11
Keys to the game: The Steelers offense is 13th in DVOA, currently ranking far better running the football (8th) than passing (20th). The Cardinals defense ranks 30th, equally bad against the pass (31st) and the run (30th). Kenny Pickett has ascended to a level of mediocrity, ranking 21st in PFF grades and 26th in ESPN's total QBR. The offensive line also isn't great - particularly on the outside - but the receiving combination of George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, and Diontae Johnson is a mismatch vs the Cardinals secondary, which is one the worst in football. To make matters worse, Antonio Hamilton is likely out with a groin injury. Hamilton moved into a full time roll in week 5, and has since become the only capable player in the Cardinals cornerback room. Freiermuth went off for 9 catches and 120 yards last week in his first game since OC Matt Canada had been fired. The media is adamant that Canada is to blame for the 2021 2nd rounders struggles - whether or not that's true or not is to be determined, but it's very clear that Freiermuth is immediately better off with Eddie Faulkner as offensive coordinator. For the Cardinals defense, the lone bright spot that it has going for them is the improvement from edge rushers Zaven Collins and Dennis Gardeck matching up against the Steelers weak tackles. Outside of that, however, any team worthy of being in the NFL should be able to move the ball freely.
The Cardinals on offense are sitting at 26th in DVOA, ranking far better running (15th) than passing (27th). Kyler Murray's PFF grade (63.2) is roughly identical to what Josh Dobbs had as the Cardinals signal caller (62.1). It's also not too far down from what Murray had prior to his ACL injury in 2022 (67.1). There's ample evidence that players returning from ACL injuries take time to return to form, and with the Cardinals bottom-5 offensive line and banged up receivers, it should be expected that Murray will be able to elevate the offense from the cellar. WR Marquise Brown (heel) is apparently going to play Sunday, but he missed Wednesday and Thursday practices. Meanwhile, Michael Wilson (shoulder) is also missing practice - he appears unlikely to play after missing weeks 11 and 12. TE Trey McBride has emerged as one of the better receiving tight ends in football, but he's also nursing a groin injury. McBride missed Wednesday's practice, but returned to practice Thursday as limited. They have a tough matchup against the Steelers defense that ranks 7th in DVOA (7th pass, 14th run). The combination of TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Cam Heyward is likely to wreck the Cardinals line and cause issues for Murray. The secondary isn't great, but it should be more than enough against whatever injury plagued skilled position players the Cardinals decide to dress on Sunday.