2021 Arizona Cardinals Predictions with Odds to Win Super Bowl
The Cardinals were seemingly everyone’s sexy sleeper pick last year to make some noise in the regular season and perhaps go deep into the postseason. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet as the Cardinals have had no playoff appearances since 2015 when they lost in the NFC title game to Carolina, and the Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray experience has not paid off like the owners have hoped it would. In two years under Kingsbury, the Cardinals finished 5-10-1 and improved last year to an 8-8 record. It’s not for a lack of talent on the roster as the Cardinals have great offensive weapons and a defense that ranks in the upper third up the league. The Cardinals just can’t get out of their own way. And not being able to come close to .500 on the road always puts them behind the eight ball when trying to compete for a playoff spot.
Doc’s Sports offers NFL picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.
The Cardinals will open the regular season on September 12 with a trip to Nashville to take on the Titans. From there they head home to face the Vikings and then back on the road with stops in Jacksonville and Los Angeles. Four of their first six games are on the road, so this stretch could perhaps make or break the season and the Cardinals don’t get their bye week until Week 12. As of writing this, the Cardinals are +4000 to win the Super Bowl, +1600 to win the NFC and +550 to win the NFC West.
Let’s take a look at what to expect from each unit heading into this season.
Key Players: Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Chase Edmonds
There were a lot of question marks surrounding Murray as he was drafted first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Oklahoma product was deemed too short and small to make an impact in the NFL and become a legitimate quarterback. Through two seasons, Murray has won the NFL ROY award and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2020. Murray has come close to reaching 4,000 passing yards in both seasons so far, but it’s his rushing that keeps him elusive from the opposing defenses. Murray rushed for 819 yards last year with 11 touchdowns and if he can find a way to keep up that production and limit the INT’s and reach the 4,000-yard passing mark, the Cardinals could be in business this season with something special.
As for DeAndre Hopkins, he was brought to Arizona to catch a boatload of balls and give Murray a reliable target not named Larry Fitzgerald. Hopkins lived up to expectations and then some last season as he caught 115 balls (career-high) for 1,407 yards. He only managed six touchdowns though, which means there is plenty of room for improvement in that area especially if Murray can take a step forward in terms of becoming an accurate passer. With the emergence of Andy Isabella in the slot, and the addition of A.J. Green, teams might have to respect the Cardinals’ other options and that will give Hopkins more room to work.
As for Edmonds, he’ll likely be sharing the backfield with James Conner, who comes over from Pittsburgh. Both of these running backs are not the quickest or biggest but can be productive out of the backfield as both runners and pass catchers. Remember, teams have to respect Murray as a runner out of the backfield, so the holes will be there should the defense blew their assignments.
Defense & Special Teams
Key Players: JJ Watt, Budda Baker, Chandler Jones
Defensively, the Cardinals will welcome the addition of JJ Watt who comes over from the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans. If Watt can stay healthy for the entire season, he’ll be a menace, alongside guys like Budda Baker and Chandlers Jones, all of which are impressive to watch and really good football players. Last season, the Cardinals ranked 11th in terms of points allowed per game and 22nd against the run, giving up 126 yards per game. However, against the pass, the defense ranked 10th with just 225 yards through the air and the addition of Watt will definitely help the run defense be better than it was last season. The defense is the key to success for the Cardinals and we see it improving this year which could make for a successful step forward for the team as a whole.
As far as special teams go, Matt Prater will be relied upon for the kicking duties and he’s got a strong leg but has been shaky over the last few seasons. Extra points and missed field goals lose ball games and this could be a weak spot for the team this year.
I am a fan of watching the Cardinals play football. They have plenty of weapons to make plays and Murray as a rusher is electric. I tend to gravitate toward cheering for them, but I should know better because they can’t get out of their own way. The NFC West division is perhaps the toughest division in football, which is an annoyance for Cardinals fans, so I’m a little hesitant to pull the trigger on them making the playoffs. An extra game should help, but the travel they have to do this year, (and every year) is absurd. I expect good things from the Cardinals, but not sure they can go from 8-8 to an 11-win team and challenge for a playoff spot.
Get all of this Weeks Free NFL picks
Get all of this Weeks Expert NFL Picks