NFL Thursday Night Football predictions: New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals picks and best bets from expert analyst Clevta

Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints

Clevta’s New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals best bet: Saints +1.5 (-110)

Saints +1.5 available at time of publishing. Playable at that number.

Although they didn’t cover, the Saints were extremely short-handed and could/should have beaten a good Bengals team. The Saints continue to be underrated in the market, as they sit 2nd in the NFL in net success rate. The good news is at least they get Chris Olave back this Thursday. Andy Dalton has been just fine, even with his limited weapons, as he sits 14th in EPA per dropback and 9th best in success rate among QBs this season. The Cards are the 3rd-heaviest blitz team in the NFL on defense and guess who is #1 among QBs in PFF grade against the blitz? Yup, Andy Dalton. He has zero turnover-worthy plays when facing a blitz so this hasn’t been a fluke. The mix of Dalton and Taysom Hill is an upgrade over what Jameis brought to the table.

Otherwise, I like just needing the Saints to win against a bad Cards team. This Cards offense is completely dysfunctional. They sit dead last in points per drive versus expected on offense and are tied for last in yards per play. And now they are without their only deep threat with the multi-week injury to Hollywood Brown. Hollywood is 3rd in the NFL in seeing nearly 50% of the Cardinals’ total air yards available. The Cardinals receivers have only 8 total receptions on 20+ air yards this season and Brown has 5 of them. Yes, they get back DeAndre Hopkins this week but who knows if he has the stamina to play a full allotment of snaps immediately after not playing for almost a full year.

But even with the receiving situation, the Cards are decimated on the OL with the loss of their reliable starting guard Justin Pugh, while starting center Rodney Hudson is just 50/50 to play after missing last week’s game against Seattle. Max Garcia will fill in for Pugh and has allowed 7 pressures and a sack in only 89 pass-block attempts this season. He has posted a poor 44 PFF pass block grade and this is on the heels of 4 straight sub-54 pass block grade seasons. Sean Harlow would start again at center if Hudson can’t go and he’s been awful so far, grading out as the 36th-best center out of 38 qualified players in PFF pass block grade. He has allowed the most pressures in the NFL at center in only 4 games. To have these cluster issues in the middle of the OL is going to hurt.

Then there is this. The Cardinals are 6-13 ATS and 7-12 straight up at home since the beginning of 2020. They have lost 8 straight home games. Kliff Kingsbury is a really bad coach, we can all see that. Case in point, the Cardinals are 0-4 straight up and ATS on a short week under Kingsbury. This includes 3 of the 4 instances where the Cardinals were favored and all 3 home games were when they were favored and they lost them all straight up.

Be sure to check out our full New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals predictions

Clevta’s New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals best total bet: Under 22.5 (-110)

Saints +1.5 available at time of publishing. Playable at that number.

Primetime unders have been on a roll and in the last 2 seasons and first-half unders have hit in 67% of games on TNF. Even if you filter for totals of 46 or less, 64% of first-half TNF games have gone under as well. That isn’t something you take blindly but I am banking on a few other things here to continue.

The Cardinals have been absolutely inept in the first half of games this season on offense, ranking dead last in the NFL with only 29 total points scored, less than 5 points per first half. The Saints aren’t much better, averaging only 9 points per first half, ranking 8th-worst. To be fair, the Cardinals have allowed the most opposition points in the first half of games, but if you exclude that opening-game debacle against KC, where most of the starting defense was out, they’ve allowed 13 points per first half.

Every single Cardinals first half so far this season has gone under. I expect a decent amount of runs from the Saints, as they play on the road for the first time since Dalton took over. There is a likelihood that Taysom Hill gets a lot of early work mixed in with Alvin Kamara touches. I don’t think they are looking to air it out and potentially create turnovers and an early deficit.

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Clevta has been a successful NFL handicapper for over a decade. His approach is a combination of bottoms-up fundamental team and matchup analytics along with a deep knowledge of the betting market to help drive success.

He has been a regular contestant in the Westgate NFL Supercontest and Circa Millions, where he has posted an aggregate 56% winning percentage, including four separate seasons with a win percentage of at least 60%. Now he brings his expert NFL handicapping skills to Pickswise.

You can find more of Clevta’s weekly NFL game analysis at

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