Monday Night Football
Baltimore @ Arizona
The Vegas total on Ravens-Cardinals is 48.5 -- second highest of Week 7 -- with Arizona listed as a 7.5-point favorite. Things obviously don't always happen like they're supposed to, but this is a game where the Cards should paste Baltimore with their passing game. Arizona's team total is highly attractive at 28 points. ... A Ravens defense that can't rush the quarterback and ranks 22nd versus the pass in Football Outsiders' DVOA has allowed top-eight QB1 weeks to Colin Kaepernick, Josh McCown, Andy Dalton, and Derek Carr. Baltimore has an 11:3 TD-to-INT ratio against and is allowing 8.2 yards per pass attempt, the NFL's fourth highest clip. Coming off a frustrating one-score, two-pick game at Pittsburgh, Palmer is a classic bounce-back target returning home in a beautiful matchup. He's my No. 1 quarterback play for Week 7. ... These were the Cardinals' running back playing-time percentages in last Sunday's loss to the Steelers: Chris Johnson 54%, David Johnson 32%, Andre Ellington 12%. Chris managed 45 scoreless yards on a team-high 15 touches, while David only touched the rock four times and Ellington had three. On Monday Night Football, Arizona's backfield will take on a Baltimore defense that has yielded just 3.54 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns to opposing RBs through six games. Johnson is an every-week RB2, but his rotating backups are very tough to trust.
Palmer's target distribution over the last month: Larry Fitzgerald 37; John Brown 33; Michael Floyd 23; David Johnson 14; Jermaine Gresham 8; Darren Fells 7; Chris Johnson 6; Ellington 3. ... Permitting the second most fantasy points to wide receivers, the Ravens have coughed up stat lines of 10-227-2 (A.J. Green), 5-94-1 (Marvin Jones), 9-111-1 (Michael Crabtree), 7-109-1 (Amari Cooper), 5-102 (Anquan Boldin), 3-96-1 (Torrey Smith), and 6-83 (Travis Benjamin). All three of Arizona's wideouts are in plum Week 7 spots. ... The Ravens have especially struggled to stop the long ball, coughing up the NFL's third most 20-plus-yard completions and a league-high seven pass plays of 40-plus yards. It can't help that Baltimore lost FS Kendrick Lewis to a knee injury last week. This matchup plays directly into the hands of 4.34 burner Brown, who ranks third in the NFL in 40-plus-yard catches. ... It's difficult to say exactly which cornerback each Cardinals wide receiver will square off with Monday night because they all move around a fair amount, and Baltimore's secondary has experienced so many injuries and performance-related benchings that we can't be certain who'll be playing corner or where for the Ravens. We do know Fitz is currently the overall fantasy WR2, and an outstanding Week 7 play against one of the NFL's worst pass defenses. ... Floyd hit pay dirt for the first time this season in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, and narrowly missed on several other would-be touchdown chances. Floyd also established season highs in snap rate (75%) and targets (8). Nearing full-time participation in Arizona's high-octane offense again, Floyd is an underrated WR3/flex against the Ravens.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Baltimore, which sports a team total of 20.5 and may struggle to get there, as the Ravens' offense matches up poorly with the Cardinals' defense. Very much capable of stamping out opposing rushing attacks, Arizona ranks No. 3 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and is holding opposing RBs to 3.72 yards per carry with just one rushing touchdown through six games. Where Justin Forsett might be able to pay RB2 dividends is in the passing game; Arizona is allowing the eighth most receptions to running backs, while Forsett is on pace for a career-high 62 catches. ... Considering all of their injuries, the Ravens have done incredibly well to rank ninth in the NFL in points scored and ninth in offensive yards per game under first-year OC Marc Trestman. I think the bottom might fall out on Baltimore's offense Monday night. A top-seven team in pass-defense DVOA, the Cardinals lead the NFL in interceptions (11) and permit the league's fifth lowest yards-per-pass-attempt average (6.5). Arizona's run-defense personnel is capable of rendering Baltimore's offense one dimensional, while Patrick Peterson's lights-out coverage is likely to put clamps on Steve Smith. Fantasy owners should be excited to play the Cardinals' D/ST and avoid Flacco at all costs.
Flacco's target distribution with Smith Sr. in the lineup this year: Smith 57; Forsett 27; Kamar Aiken 26; Crockett Gillmore and Marlon Brown 19; Maxx Williams 18; Kyle Juszczyk 11. ... Finally playing up to his reputation, Peterson holds a top-12 pass-coverage grade among 109 qualified cornerbacks in PFF's ratings while consistently shadowing enemy top wideouts. Most recently, Peterson held Antonio Brown to 24 yards on eight targets, while Martavis Bryant went berserk. Smith has earned every-week WR2 treatment in season-long leagues, but don't be surprised if he fails to pay off on Monday night. ... Owners in bye-week crunches should give Aiken a long look as a WR3 play. Recent No. 2 receivers to face Arizona include Bryant (6-137-2), Golden Tate (8-74 on eighteen targets), and Tavon Austin (6-96-2). While Aiken is not nearly as gifted as most of those players, there is ample reason to believe he could exceed expectations in this particular matchup. ... Gillmore went off in Week 2 against the Raiders, but has failed to top 40 yards in each of his other three appearances and has not seen more than six targets in any of his 2015 games. The Cardinals allow the fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 30, Ravens 13