Arizona Cardinals Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/1/2014
It probably doesn't feel like it to Arizona Cardinals fans, but you can't call last season anything other than a big success. Entering last year, this franchise had won 10 games just once since 1976. The Cards were 5-11 in 2012, which led to the firing of Coach Ken Whisenhunt, the only man to lead the team to the Super Bowl, and hiring of Bruce Arians, the 2012 Coach of the Year as an interim guy with the Indianapolis Colts.
The team's other big move last offseason was trading a late-round pick to Oakland for Carson Palmer. Both he and the team got off to a rusty start, with a Week 7 loss to the Seahawks dropping the team to 3-4. Another below-.500 season looked likely. Then something clicked. Palmer improved, and the Cardinals won seven of their next eight, including a huge Week 16 upset in Seattle, Russell Wilson's first and only home defeat. That meant Arizona had a shot at the playoffs with a victory in Week 17 against San Francisco. The Cards needed a win and a Saints loss. Perhaps it was better that New Orleans beat Tampa Bay, because if Arizona won it would have become just the third team in NFL history to finish 11-5 and miss out. Instead, Arizona was the 19th team since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule to not make the postseason with double-digit wins.
Palmer played all 16 games for the first time since his final Bengals season. His 63.3 percent completions were his best since 2007 and his 4,274 yards were a career high. Palmer also threw 24 touchdowns but definitely too many interceptions with 22, along with six fumbles. Palmer had a pick in each of the first nine games but threw interceptions in just three of the final seven. The Cards haven't been a great running team in years and weren't last season at 96.3 ypg. Rashard Mendenhall led the team in rushing, but he was phased out in favor of rookie Andre Ellington later in the season, and Mendenhall is now retired. I highly recommend you draft Ellington in your fantasy football league. Arians says he wants to get him 25-30 touches a game. Ellington had 118 rushing attempts (stellar 5.5 yards per carry) and 38 receptions last year for a total of 156 touches.
Palmer has an excellent top two receivers in Larry Fitzgerald (82 catches, 954 yards, 10 TDs) and Michael Floyd (65 catches, 1,041 yards, five TDs), although No. 3 guy Andre Roberts left as a free agent. Rookie John Brown, a third-round pick out of little Pittsburg State, or new addition Ted Ginn Jr. will now fill that role. So essentially the Cards better hope neither Floyd nor Fitzgerald gets hurt. The offensive line was subpar a season ago but signed one of the best tackles on the market, Oakland's Jared Veldheer, and welcomes back guard Jonathan Cooper. He was the team's first-round pick in 2013 but broke his leg in the preseason and was done.
If I told you a team with a bird nickname led the NFL in rushing defense and gave you two guesses, would you even get Cardinals? (I'm sure you would go Seahawks, then Ravens) Indeed, Arizona allowed only 84.4 yards per game on the ground. The primary reason for that was a very good linebacker duo of Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby. However, neither will be playing for Arizona this season. Dansby left as a free agent, and Washington was suspended the entire season, which blindsided the team. He missed the first four games last year due to suspension but finished with 75 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. That is a problem area now.
The secondary should be excellent. There aren't many corners better than Patrick Peterson -- none better if you ask him -- and the team signed free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was having a Defensive Rookie of the Year-type season as a rookie, but the "Honey Badger" tore his ACL in Arizona's 13th game, and he's not going to be ready Week 1. The club is targeting the first week of October. He looked as good as he did at LSU before the off-field troubles as Mathieu had 68 tackles, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble. Seattle's 2014 first-round pick was Deone Bucannon from Washington State.
2014 Arizona Cardinals Schedule Analysis
The Cardinals have the eighth-toughest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 140-116 last season, a winning percentage of .547. It is the easiest schedule among the NFC West clubs. The Cardinals' home slate (.563) appears tougher than the road (.531). They are 3.5-point home favorites for Week 1 against San Diego, the second game of the Monday night doubleheader. Arizona was 6-2 last season at home, with those losses coming against two pretty good teams: the Seahawks and 49ers. The Cards were fairly dominant there otherwise. They haven't played a Monday night game since Week 8 of the 2012 season.
It's hard to stress how vital winning that opener is for Arizona if it harbors playoff hopes because it likely will be a dog the next three weeks: at the Giants. vs. the 49ers and then at the Broncos, although at least that's off Arizona's bye week. Survive that gauntlet in OK shape, and Arizona can make a move in the next six games: vs. Redskins, at Oakland, vs. Eagles, at Cowboys, vs. Rams, vs. Lions. All very winnable, and probably the Cards are favored in all but in Dallas (maybe not vs. Eagles). The team better be no worse than 6-4 after that because the last six are very tough: at Seahawks, at Falcons, vs. Chiefs, at Rams, vs. Seahawks, at 49ers.
2014 Arizona Cardinals Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Cardinals are +5000 to win their first Super Bowl, +3000 to win the NFC championship and +850 long shots to take the NFC West. They have a wins total of 7.5, with the "over" a -155 favorite. Arizona is +400 to make the playoffs and -600 to miss out. Fitzgerald is +10000 to win NFL MVP (surprised no odds for Palmer) and +5000 to lead the league in receiving. Floyd is +10000 to top the NFL in receiving yards. Ellington is +5000 to lead the league in rushing. Palmer is +15000 to win the NFL passing title. Bucannon is +4000 to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 Arizona Cardinals Picks and Predictions
Arians did a fine job last season in resurrecting Palmer's career, and I am a huge Ellington guy. I think he will be this season's breakout offensive star. I also believe Palmer regresses a bit -- six games against those tough NFC West defenses won't help -- and that the offensive line remains a question mark. The receiving depth is not good. The defense will be hurt big time by the losses of Washington and Dansby. The Cardinals slip to 6-10, so go "under" and obviously miss the playoffs. That .5 is great because maybe I see 7-9 but not 8-8.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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