It shouldn't come as much of a surprise in the Peyton Manning era, but in week 5, the (2-1) Denver Broncos are favored to beat the (3-0) Arizona Cardinals, at home, by 8 points. The Cardinals currently are in sole possession of first place in the NFC West.
The Broncos opened the week as 7-point favorites, but it has since increased to 8, and higher, depending on what Vegas source is referenced. But the Broncos emerged from week 3 at 0-1 vs NFC West opponents, as they lost a heart-breaker on the road, in overtime, to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Cardinals enter week 5 at 1-0 in AFC West action, as they defeated the San Diego Chargers in week 1. Starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, has missed the last two games with a nerve injury in his shoulder. And yet, even with backup, Drew Stanton, running the offense, they found a way to emerge with a victory in both matchups vs the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.
That's a sign of a good team. A team who can win games, even when missing arguably their most important player, is a team to be reckoned with. Such is the caliber of matchup the Broncos have on the docket this Sunday.
Although he's still listed as questionable, Palmer has indicated that he plans on starting in week 5. In his only game thus far, he went 24/37, for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has premier weapons on the outside in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd and a play-maker at running back in Andre Ellington.
It's important to remember that even though they missed the playoffs, the 2013 Cardinals finished the season at 10-6, in large measure, due to their defense. There have been some changes for them on that side of the ball, however. Gone is inside linebacker, Karlos Dansby, as is linebacker, Daryl Washington, who is currently serving a suspension for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drug policy. Safety, Tyrann Mathieu, has returned to the team, following an ACL tear in 2013 and with shutdown cornerback, Patrick Peterson, this defense is playing as well as any in the league.
The Broncos will hope to rebound from their week 3 loss. The team has reportedly utilized their week 4 bye to iron out the kinks in their running game and overall get on the same page and gel. They'll need every arrow in their quiver, if they hope to beat the Cardinals.
Despite the current 8-point spread, the Cardinals are a very good team. Head coach, Bruce Arians, will have them ready and focused. The Broncos will have to bring their A-game. Bettors face a tough decision in this game. At the end of the day, I expect this matchup to go to the Broncos by 6 points.