2018 Arizona Cardinals Season Win Totals Predictions and Expert Picks
2017 Record: 8-8
2018 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 5.5*
2018 Season Win Total Picks NFL Football: 'Over'
The Bruce Arians regime, which at one point showed so much promise, ended with a whimper. Last season the Cardinals suffered a rash of injuries and couldn't overcome one of the league's worst offenses. That they actually finished 8-8 despite being outscored by 66 points on the season is a testament to Arians. But the reality is that Arizona slid from first place in the NFC West in 2015 to second in 2016 to third in 2017.
Arizona is projected to finish in last place in the NFC West in 2018 as they enter the opening stages of a clear rebuild. Former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator and Guy That Is In Way Over His Head Steve Wilks was brought in to pick up the pieces. This is Wilks' first head coaching job at any level since a one-year stint at Savannah State in 1999. In fact, Wilks has only been a defensive coordinator - at any level - for two seasons this century. He was the DC at East Tennessee State in 2002 before taking over Carolina's defense last year.
Needless to say, Wilks has a lot to prove. And there is some pretty severe meltdown potential with the Cardinals this year because of their inexperienced head coach.
Perpetually injured Sam Bradford is penciled in as the Week 1 starter. I'm sure he'll suffer a horrific, season-ended injury some time by Week 6. Arizona will then likely turn to rookie Josh Rosen, whom the team is counting on to be the future of the franchise.
Bradford and Rosen will have ageless Larry Fitzgerald and do-it-all running back David Johnson to lean on. However, those two are both huge injury risks, and there is minimal depth behind them. Arizona's offensive line is also below average and learning an entirely new offensive scheme.
The strength of the Cardinals will again be the defense. They have a solid starting 11 and some high-end talents like Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson. Arizona has finished in the Top 6 in total defense over the past three years and four times in the last five seasons. But unless they get more help from Mike McCoy's offense, they could have some struggles on this side of the ball.
Also, if Arizona is indeed making a full shift to a base Cover-2 defense then I expect there to be some growing pains. Wilks was part of a Cover-2 scheme in Carolina. But he was responsible for more blitzing and a more aggressive approach last year with the Panthers.
The Cardinals actually grossly overachieved last season, beating their Pythagorean Win Total by nearly two wins. That means they actually had the stats of a six-win team despite their 8-8 mark. I don't expect them to be as lucky this year. On the other hand, they have offensive and defensive statistical indicators suggesting they will be more efficient on both sides of the ball.
So there are a lot of conflicting numbers when it comes to which way Arizona will regress this year.
This isn't a very good team. And there are some serious question marks surrounding their coaching staff. But this is also a pretty low bar to cross. I know Bradford won't stay healthy. But if by some Act of God he does then I think this team will be good enough, with a manageable enough schedule, to get to six wins.
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