Back Larry for lolly

  • By: David John (Twitter: @SLifeDaveJohn)
  • Last Updated: December 1 2013, 21:10 GMT

Our in-form NFL tipster David John is focusing on the player markets for Sunday's televised games.

Larry Fitzgerald: Should make plenty of gains for the Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald: Should make plenty of gains for the Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald is the man in question in the early game which sees Arizona head to Philadelphia.

And in the big late game - Denver at divisional rivals Kansas City - Julius Thomas looks a big price so check out the verdicts in full:

Arizona at Philadelphia (1800 GMT)

A few weeks ago this game would have been a bit of a non-event but the Cardinals have won four straight and the Eagles three to get the pair right into the thick of the play-off race.

The last time I sided with the visitors was in the Thursday night defeat at home to the Seahawks in week seven where they were outplayed and finished a pretty distant second best.

But that game seems to have been the watershed for their season with an improved performance from players on both side of the ball that has them at 7-4 and in the hunt for honours in the NFC West.

Quarterback Carson Palmer has managed to find his rhythm on offense of late but he admitted that "our identity is that of a defensive football team".

They are ranked eighth overall in the NFL, eighth in points allowed per game having kept opponents to 14 points or less in five of their last eight games. Impressively, they have the second best rushing defense which gives up on average just 81.3 yards per game and only Marshawn Lynch of Seattle has been able to top 100 yards against them this season

So on paper at least they should have a shot against Chip Kelly's Eagles offense that has also got its act together since starter Mike Vick got injured and was replaced at quarterback by Nick Foles.

The latter does not possess Vick's athleticism but he has a strong arm and his stats since getting the nod under centre - a job he will now keep until the end of the campaign whenever that may be - have seen him throw 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions with the Eagles scoring on average 25.6 points in the three-game winning streak.

They currently have the league's leading rusher in LeSean McCoy and Kelly's up-tempo offense should be fresh on their return from the bye week entering a month when they were traditionally very strong under former head coach Andy Reid.

But this does look the acid test for the Eagles. Their recent run of good results have come against Oakland, Green Bay and Washington and bar a freak offensive display against the former the last two-named teams have defenses that are ranked pretty lowly in the stats this season.

On the flip side, the Eagles own defense - particularly against the pass - is their Achilles heel and that should certainly give Palmer and wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and the improving Michael Floyd a chance to shine and put some points on the board.

I am finding it hard to split the pair so the safest bet may well be to side with the excellent Fitzgerald, who has a good record in games with Philadelphia and should have his fair share of opportunities up against that leaky pass defense.

He remains one of the best in the league and with Palmer finding some form, picking up the 57.5 yards quoted by Sky Bet should be more than manageable.

Verdict: Arizona 23 Philadelphia 26

Denver at Kansas City (2125)

The battle for the AFC West takes centre stage in Sky's second live game on Sunday night and with both teams 9-2, the winner will get a huge leg-up in terms of winning the division and perhaps claiming the top seeding in the conference ahead of the play-offs.

It is only a fortnight since these two met for the first time as the Broncos handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season 27-17 and both now head into the rematch with something to prove following subsequent defeats.

Let's take Denver first. Last week's 34-31 overtime heartbreak in New England was perhaps as traumatic as they come for any team outside the post-season. They managed to squander a 24-0 advantage as quarterback Peyton Manning once again came out second best against old rival Tom Brady.

That was Manning's worst display of the season too, statistically, as he went 19-36-150 with a passer rating of a weary 70.4 while his team matched their season high with four costly turnovers.

So perhaps the Broncos could be vulnerable on the road at one of the most hostile venues in the NFL but the Chiefs have also slumped into a bit of a funk having won their first nine games.

They have surrendered over 700 yards of offense in their last two defeats and the dominating defense that allowed an average of just 12 points per game during that unbeaten run, has given up 68 against Denver and San Diego.

Worringly too, the physical side of the game is starting to taking a toll too with dominant defensive players Tamba Hali (ankle) and Justin Houston (elbow) both dinged up. The former should play but Houston looks almost certain to be watching from the sidelines.

Denver's main injury concern is running back Knowshon Moreno, who suffered an ankle sprain late in the day at New England having been run into the ground on 37 carries for 224 yards. His presence will be important with ball protection issues surrounding rookie Montee Ball at the moment after he coughed it up last week to give the Patriots a foothold in the game.

The layers clearly expect Denver to bounce back and make them favourites by 5.5 points and I would probably agree. Head coach John Fox returned to the facility this week after heart surgery and although he will not be back on the sidelines until week 14, a motivational speech he gave to his staff and players has really lifted the organisation at a vital time.

Manning's cause will be helped considerably with the news that tight end Julius Thomas is back at practice and likely to return to the fray having sat out last week with a knee injury.

Thomas has emerged from nowhere this season and, with 10 touchdowns to his name already, is one of Manning's favourite scoring targets.

He found the end zone the last time these two met and considering he is odds-on in places, the 7/5 offered by Paddy Power to repeat the dose at some point looks fair.

Verdict: Denver 30 Kansas City 19

More week 13 verdicts:

Chicago 20 Minnesota 17

Jacksonville 19 Cleveland 16

Miami 17 NY Jets 19

New England 27 Houston 16

Tampa Bay 20 Carolina 24

Tennessee 20 Indianapolis 14

Atlanta 13 Buffalo 21

St Louis 16 San Francisco 23

Cincinnati 28 San Diego 31

NY Giants 24 Washington 17

New Orleans 24 Seattle 21

  • Posted at 1130 GMT on 30/11/2013.