A pair of underachieving 2-4 teams face off on Thursday night when the Arizona Cardinals host the New Orleans Saints.
Maybe, the winner can turn its season around.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals get DeAndre Hopkins back for the first time since a knee injury sidelined him for the final three games of last season and a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs delayed his return.
Arizona is 3-9 in its past 12 games since a 10-2 start in 2021. Hopkins’ injuries and absence from the lineup coincided with that slide.
“I hope that he can provide just a spark,” Cardinals coach Kilff Kingsbury said. “The way he competes and his play-making, his after-the-catch stuff, he’s a guy you get it close to him he’s going to make a play on the ball.”
The Saints expect leading receiver Chris Olave back after he missed a game with a concussion but are dealing with several injuries. They’ve averaged 30 points with backup quarterback Andy Dalton while going 1-2 in the past three games. Two losses were by an average of 3.5 points.
The Cardinals are only a 1 1/2-point favorite, per FanDuel Sportsbook, at home, where they have lost eight straight games. Arizona’s most recent home win was against Houston last Oct. 24.
Pro Picks sees that losing streak ending.
Kansas City (minus 3) at San Francisco
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs watched Josh Allen and the Bills avenge a playoff loss. The 49ers can’t do much in the second half.
BEST BET: CHIEFS, 29-20
Indianapolis (plus 2 1/2) at Tennessee
Coming off a bye, the Titans aim to complete a season sweep over their AFC South rival. The Colts have rallied to win two straight games behind Matt Ryan.
UPSET SPECIAL: COLTS, 24-23
Detroit (plus 7) at Dallas
Dak Prescott may be rusty if he returns, as planned, after missing five games. It won’t affect the outcome, only the score.
New York Giants (plus 3) at Jacksonville
After beating the Packers and Ravens in consecutive weeks, the Giants get no respect from oddsmakers going against a Jaguars team that has lost three in a row.
Cleveland (plus 6 1/2) at Baltimore
If the Ravens avoid taking a double-digit lead, they’ll be fine. Baltimore has lost three of its six games after taking a double-digit lead in every game.
Atlanta (plus 6 1/2) at Cincinnati
Two teams sitting at 3-3 when both were supposed to be heading in opposite directions. The Bengals are reigning AFC champions. The Falcons are rebuilding.
Green Bay (minus 5 1/2) at Washington
Good news for the Packers that they’re done facing New York teams. They also go against a team missing its starting quarterback.
Tampa Bay (minus 10 1/2) at Carolina
Tom Brady isn’t happy after another poor performance. That doesn’t bode well for the Panthers.
Houston (plus 7) at Las Vegas
The Raiders are rested and ready to bounce back from a poor start. The Texans are touchdown underdogs despite a slightly better winning percentage at 1-3-1.
New York Jets (plus 1 1/2) at Denver
Russell Wilson’s first season with the Broncos hasn’t gone as planned. The Jets are off to their best start in seven years.
Seattle (plus 6 1/2) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers will be coming off an overtime win over a divisional rival on a short week. That helps the Seahawks.
Pittsburgh (plus 7) at Miami
The Steelers try for their second straight win over a Florida team. They won’t catch the Dolphins off their guard.
Chicago (plus 7 1/2) at New England
Bailey Zappe or Mac Jones? The Patriots could bring back Steve Grogan against this Bears team.
Last Week: Straight up: 8-6. Against spread: 10-4.
Season: Straight up: 57-37. Against spread: 50-43-1.
Best Bet: Straight up: 0-1. Against spread: 0-1.
Season: Straight up: 4-2. Against spread: 4-2.
Upset Special: Straight up: 1-0. Against spread: 1-0.
Season: Straight up: 3-3. Against spread: 4-2
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi
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