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Lessons learned from NFL Week 5

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It was quite the week of action in the NFL in Week 5, but more importantly, it was the best week for bettors this season. Multiple shops reported losses on Sunday, as VSiN’s Chris Andrews told Patrick Everson, “We got clobbered.” As we wipe the tears we have shed for the operators who regularly take our money, let’s get ready for Week 6.

We take our first look at the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and their biggest weakness. We go back to the well with Kansas City, too, but from the perspective of opposing defenses and their emerging strategy for Patrick Mahomes. Finally, we get to the bottom of New England’s offensive issues and how it could turn around this week against Dallas.

ARIZONA’S SOFT DEFENSIVE FRONT

There’s no question that the last undefeated team in the NFL is a legitimate threat to win the NFC title. Arizona is a fantastic offensive team, ranking fourth in scoring (31.4), seventh in yards per play (6.3) and eighth in overall offensive grading by PFF standards (80.4). Kyler Murray has suddenly become the best deep-ball thrower in the NFL, hitting 69.6 percent of his passes 20 or more yards downfield for 22.2 yards per attempt and four touchdowns. Kliff Kingsbury has this unit peaking in his third season at the helm, but not everything is perfect for the 5-0 Cardinals. A defense that continues to show its warts threatens to derail the train, and it has come close to doing so multiple times this season.

The Cardinals have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. By traditional metrics, they rank 31st in yards per carry allowed (5.4) and 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (139.0). PFF grades them as the second-worst run defense in the league (38.6), second only to Kansas City. On Sunday, San Francisco exploited that weakness to the tune of 152 yards on 28 carries for an average of 5.4 yards per attempt. In fact, lest you think these numbers are the result of one bad game, every opponent but one (Tennessee) has averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry against this front seven this season. Despite these poor numbers against the run, the Cardinals remain undefeated, but this is a weakness that is going to burn them this season and it almost did in Week 2 against Minnesota. The Vikings pummeled the Cardinals up front, running for 177 yards on 6.6 yards per attempt, and that rushing success led to a brilliant performance from Kirk Cousins. Cousins ripped Arizona through play-action passing, going 8-for-9 for 122 yards (13.5 YPA) and two touchdowns. Arizona escaped with a victory when Greg Joseph missed a field-goal try as time expired, but that game showed bettors how bad this defense could be. And this week the Cardinals face one of the elite running offenses in the league.

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