One of the true negatives of Thursday night games is seeing key players, often stars, unable to participate because of the short turnaround.
That looks like the case this week for the Arizona Cardinals, whose quarterback, Carson Palmer, has been in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
And with the Cardinals at 1-3, just like their opponent, San Francisco, this is no time to be short-handed. Particularly at that position.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has been somewhat optimistic about Palmer’s availability. He even checked with Palmer’s wife for an evaluation.
“Well, you’re not going to get the real truth from a football player,” Arians says. “He’s always going to tell you he’s ready and he’s OK. I was counting on her to tell me what it was really like.”
Not that Shaelyn Palmer is a doctor. So it easily could be Drew Stanton behind centre.
The 49ers have dropped three straight since an opening victory, but they will have their regular signal caller in Blaine Gabbert. Though Gabbert hardly has been a sensation for San Francisco.
“Short week or not, you can’t skip any part of your normal preparation,” Gabbert said. “If anything, you have to do more, especially from the physical aspect to get your body feeling the way it should by Sunday, which happens to be Thursday this week. And then from a mental aspect ... it’s just everything is sped up.”
The disappointing Cardinals (No. 20 Arizona, AP Pro32) are 4-point favourites over the host Niners (No. 31, AP Pro32).
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP
The Bengals came through for us last week, and we will remain in the Buckeye state this time. No, we’re not taking the Browns. Tom Brady and the PATRIOTS are an obvious choice.
No. 3 New England (minus 10) at No. 32 Cleveland
What’s the over/under on how many TDs Brady throws — in the first half?
BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 48-13
No. 29 Tennessee (plus 4) at No. 26 Miami
Dolphins are well rested. That might be only thing they have going right now.
UPSET SPECIAL: TITANS, 22-20
No. 13 Houston (plus 4 1-2) at No. 2 Minnesota
Another chance for Texans to prove themselves against quality competition? Nope.
No. 21 New York Jets (plus 10) at No. 6 Pittsburgh
Right now, Steelers can manhandle anybody.
No. 19 Washington (plus 5) at No. 10 Baltimore
Redskins have won two straight without being very impressive.
No. 30 Chicago (plus 6) at No. 28 Indianapolis
Colts’ experiment of no bye after London game works. Barely.
No. 4 Philadelphia (minus 3) at No. 27 Detroit
This one scares us. Are Eagles ready to be 4-0? Don’t think so.
No. 8 Atlanta (plus 6) at No. 1 Denver
This one doesn’t scare us, but Broncos’ defence does.
No. 11 Cincinnati (pick-em) at No. 12 Dallas
Finally, Dak Prescott faces a good defence. Not a good thing for Dallas.
No. 25 San Diego (plus 3) at No. 9 Oakland
Chargers are mastering close defeats. Here’s another.
No. 17 (tie) Buffalo (plus 2 1-2) at No. 14 Los Angeles
Both teams have made a nice turnaround. Rams grab NFC West lead.
No. 17 (tie) New York Giants (plus 6 1-2) at No. 7 Green Bay
Until Giants get healthy in secondary, they are doomed against top QBs.
No. 24 Tampa Bay (OFF) at No. 16 Carolina
No line because of Cam Newton’s uncertain status. Panthers win with or without him.
This Week: Against spread (8-7). Straight up:(8-7)
Season Totals: Against spread (28-32-2). Straight up: (36-26)
Best Bet: 1-3 against spread, 2-2 straight up.
Upset special: 2-2 against spread, 2-2 straight up.