NFL Futures Odds: Can the Long Shot Arizona Cardinals Make a Super Bowl Run?
by George Monroy - 12/16/2014
The Arizona Cardinals are down to their third-string quarterback after a pair of injuries shut down Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, while seemingly dashing the team's Super Bowl chances in the process. Arizona, at the moment, may be the most underrated 11-3 team in NFL history as most football experts have jumped off the Cardinal bandwagon and expect the team to make a quick playoff exit come January.
The hidden truth about the Cardinals, however, is that the squad can still earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC and play every postseason game at home, including the Super Bowl, which will be held in Arizona this year. The team's biggest strength to begin the season was its ball-stopping defense, and nothing has changed on that end. Arizona might not be a trendy Super Bowl pick, but for bettors looking to find value, placing a future's wager, especially at long-shot odds, could be a great spot to make a hefty profit on the team.
2015 Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl and Conference Odds
NFC Odds : +1300
Super Bowl Odds : +2500
Arizona is currently receiving +1300 and +2500 conference and Super Bowl odds, respectively, at Sportsbook.ag, and those numbers are probably being ignored by the average bettor. But the question on our minds is whether or not they are worth a bet for a team that could win the No. 1 seed in the NFC and host every playoff game?
That is not to suggest that Arizona has more value than the top seeds like Green Bay, New England, Seattle and Denver, which are all receiving less than +1000 Super Bowl odds, but once we begin talking about the second-tier contenders like Dallas, Indianapolis, and Detroit, which are all receiving similar odds, the Cardinals' line begins to stand out by comparison.
Long-shot Super Bowl Odds
Philadelphia Eagles: +4000
Cincinnati Bengals: +4000
Taking a closer look at the other long-shot contenders reveals a list of teams that can't be trusted. Sure, Indianapolis can be spectacular at times, but the team can also be mistake-prone and fall into big deficits early in games. Long-time NFL fans will know that the Cowboys, Eagles and Lions can never really be trusted to win a big game when it matters. And that is not taking into account the fatal flaw all those team's possess-a lack of an elite defense.
Time and time again the NFL Playoffs have shown that teams with an elite defense win Super Bowls at the expense of those flashy offensive squads that need to score points. Last week Arizona shut down at St. Louis Rams' squad that scored over 75 points in its previous two games while not allowing a single point during that span. Of course, the Rams are not a powerhouse by any means, but the general public seemed to jump on St. Louis during the matchup as the 6-7 Rams were a 5-point favorite over the 10-3 squad. Is it really that difficult to imagine the Cardinals winning two low-scoring playoff games at home and hosting a Super Bowl in February?
Does the Carson Palmer Really Matter?
The scouting report on the Cardinals is that while they have an elite defense, they do not have the offense to score enough points to succeed in the postseason, and that the loss of Palmer during a Week 10 matchup against St. Louis will be insurmountable. Of course, Palmer was an excellent quarterback, but let's not mistake him for Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. A few short years ago the Arizona quarterback was on a horrendous Oakland Raiders team, and many experts thought his career was over.
Palmer played well through his first nine games this season, yet he threw only 11 touchdowns and built a passer rating of 95.6. Sure, any sane person would rather have Palmer starting the postseason than third-string option Ryan Lindley. However, let's not overact and assume the gap between both players is as large as the media is making it out to be.
Worth a bet?
Many of Arizona's questions will be answered this Sunday when they host Seattle in a matchup that might very well decide the No. 1 seed in the conference. If Arizona can pull a win out of its hat and grab home-field advantage, the team will certainly have value as a long-shot contender during the postseason. For those bettors looking for value, taking 13/1 and 25/1 odds on an elite defensive team during the postseason is a great bet to make.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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