It’s safe to say that the Arizona Cardinals have had an eventful few months. Since getting blown out by the eventual Super Bowl champion — and divisional rival — Los Angeles Rams in a very one-sided Wild Card round playoff game. The Cardinals have had to withstand rumors that star quarterback Kyler Murray wanted out (he’s still there) and also the news that top receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season. As you’d imagine, those stories haven’t been kind to the Arizona Cardinals betting odds.
Arizona also has the misfortune of being in a tough NFC West along with the Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Even with the Seattle Seahawks clearly going through a painful rebuild, Arizona is behind the eight-ball in the division and looks to be a clear third-place team. The Cardinals did go 11-6 a year ago but, with Hopkins likely missing a big chunk of the season (and Christian Kirk now in Jacksonville), it won’t be easy for Arizona to make up that production especially with the Cardinal’s games schedule being the second-toughest in the NFL.
Kyler Has to Stay on The Field
When he was healthy, Kyler Murray was awesome last season. In 14 games, he threw for nearly 4,000 yards, had 24 passing touchdowns compared to just five interceptions, and ran for 423 more yards (with five rushing scores). But, he missed three games in the middle of the season due to an ankle injury that slowed down Arizona’s season after playing in all 32 games during his rookie and sophomore campaigns. Arizona cannot afford to lose Murray for any part of this year if the Cardinals are going to seriously contend.
Plus, Murray has a new-look group of weapons surrounding him that he has to develop chemistry with. Christian Kirk and Chase Edmonds are gone while Hollywood Brown and Darrel Williams are now in the mix, with both likely being slight downgrades from the guys they’re essentially replacing. Now, there will be a lot more pressure on James Conner as the clear lead back with the same being said for A.J. Green. Those guys can handle that kind of burden but, as reflected in the Cardinals’ relatively dismal odds to win the Super Bowl, Vegas isn’t so convinced.
Interestingly, the Cardinals are now +2500 to win it all after opening at +2800 in April. That line movement is tough to figure, though, because Arizona has gone from a toss-up to make or miss the playoffs (and to go over or under nine wins) to a decent-sized underdog to be a playoff team (and win more than nine games). The Arizona Cardinals betting odds are heading in the wrong direction.
Defense Could Take a Fall
Much like the offense, the Arizona Cardinals’ defense was pretty good in 2021 but not elite. Arizona was 11th in both scoring defense and yardage defense and the Cardinals had the fifth-best turnover rate in football. But, Arizona was heavily aided by a surprising amount of fumble luck on both ends of the ball — the Cardinals lost the fewest fumbles on offense and gained the most fumbles on defense — which is always a statistic prone to regression.
That, in addition to the departure of major contributors Chandler Jones and Jordan Hicks, is cause for concern with Arizona’s defense. Jones was second on the Cardinals in sacks (10.5) last season while Hicks was second in total tackles (116). Neither of them was exactly replaced so Arizona will have to make up for those losses through internal promotions. Also, the Cardinals will count on J.J. Watt to play more than seven games and notch more than one sack, as his 2021 season was cut short due to shoulder surgery.
Tough Hill to Climb
As mentioned above, the Arizona Cardinals have a lot stacked against them this season. Between their brutal strength of schedule, difficult division, and the Hopkins suspension, it could be a struggle for Arizona to reach its nine-win over/under — even after winning 11 games a year ago. The Arizona Cardinals betting odds now peg the Cardinals as a likely non-playoff team (-125) and don’t expect them to be over .500 overall (-140 for under nine wins).
Their divisional odds aren’t too bad at +300 but those have fallen from +275 in April. That doesn’t seem like a great value, though, considering how good the Rams and 49ers both are. Arizona’s conference (+1200) and Super Bowl odds have surprisingly improved from April, however, but both are pretty close to long-shots at this point.
The issue with the Cardinals isn’t talent, especially on offense; the issue is health and how much Kyler Murray will need to be relied on during Hopkins’ absence. A.J. Green and J.J. Watt are both great players with incredible pedigrees but they’re on the wrong side of 30 and while guys like Rondale Moore, Hollywood Brown, and Zach Allen — to name a few — are exciting players, it would be a bit too optimistic to expect them to perform well enough to push this team over Los Angeles or San Francisco.Follow us on Twitter