Through the first half of last season, there was no better team in the NFL than the Arizona Cardinals. They opened the season with a 7-0 record and stretched that mark to 10-2 in the following weeks. Kyler Murray was a significant betting favorite to win NFL MVP. Arizona looked like the real deal.
However, it all came crashing down fast. Injuries to Murray and DeAndre Hopkins didn't help. They lost four of their final five games. In the playoffs, they put forward one of the more pathetic efforts you will see in a big game. Now the question becomes which version of these Cardinals was real and just what can we expect out of them this season.
For a team riddled with question marks, it was a weird offseason. Kyler Murray's situation was bizarre. It started with him scraping his social media and subsequent speculation that he wanted out of Arizona. However, the team traded for Marquise Brown, one of Murray's best friends and his former teammate at Oklahoma. They then rewarded the quarterback with a contract extension, but they even made that weird by attempting to include an off-field study clause that they eventually had to scrap.
Hopkins will miss the first six games of the season for violating the league's PED policy. Kliff Kingsbury appeared to be on the hot seat, but he was given a recent extension. There's still questions about just how good of a coach he is. Can Murray stay healthy this year? And if he can, does he have the mental makeup to be a franchise quarterback? These are just some of the questions surrounding Arizona entering the season.
These question marks along with the disparity between the highs and lows of last season have made the Cardinals an extremely tough team to judge entering the season. We've seen them perform at an elite level. They've also shown us reason not to trust them. Last year wasn't their only collapse. In 2020, they had a 5-2 record before finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Yahoo's Frank Schwab has the Cardinals ranked 17th in his preseason power rankings. Oddsmakers agree that this projects as a middling team, but the potential variance makes them intriguing.
Arizona projects as a middling team
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals won 11 games. However, those 11 wins don't feel as impressive when you consider how the season started and how it finished. Oddsmakers are putting a lot of weight into the end of the season, as Arizona's win total for the upcoming season is set at just 8.5 wins. Arizona's win total actually opened at 9.5 wins, but the betting action coming in on the under has moved that number down through the summer. Currently, 70% of the money is backing Arizona to go under 8.5 wins.
Arizona is currently a -145 favorite to miss the playoffs this season. Those odds suggest the Cardinals miss the playoffs a little over 59% of the time. Action is pretty split on the Cardinals making the playoffs, as just 46% of bets are backing them to make the postseason. If you think Arizona can make the playoffs for a second straight season, you can bet them to make the playoffs at +120.
The Cardinals are +350 to win the NFC West. Those are the third best odds in the division behind the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals are +135 to finish in third place, ahead of the Seattle Seahawks. Oddsmakers view that as the most likely outcome. If you think the Cardinals fail to win the division but still make the playoffs, you can bet them at +290 to qualify as a wildcard team.
Arizona is 20-to-1 to lead the NFL in points scored this season. Those odds are tied for 12th best with the Browns, Ravens, Raiders and Vikings. Arizona finished with the 11th most points last season.
Cardinals are a Super Bowl long shot
The Cardinals are 14-to-1 to win the NFC and represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Those are the seventh best odds in the conference, just behind Philadelphia and just ahead of the Minnesota Vikings. Surprisingly, the Cardinals are the third most popular bet to win the NFC at BetMGM. Only Detroit and Philadelphia have received more bets.
Arizona is 12-to-1 to enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the conference and earn a first-round bye. These are the sixth best odds in the NFC behind Tampa Bay, Dallas, Green Bay, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Arizona player props and awards
Even with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first part of the season and off the board for many betting markets, there's plenty of talent on this Arizona team.
Kyler Murray was the betting favorite to win NFL MVP at the midway point of last season. Things fell apart in the second half as he dealt with injuries and his team struggled, but he flashed his game-changing abilities. Murray is currently 22-to-1 to win NFL MVP in 2022. Those odds are tied for 11th best with Jalen Hurts. Murray's odds put him right behind Lamar Jackson and right ahead of Derek Carr. Murray is the fifth most popular MVP bet at BetMGM, behind only Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Tom Brady and Justin Herbert.
Due to his dual threat capabilities, Murray is an appealing bet to win Offensive Player of the Year. He's 30-to-1 to win the award, tied for the 13th best odds with Hurts and Ja'Marr Chase. Kyler is 30-to-1 to lead the league in passing yards and 40-to-1 to lead the NFL in passing touchdowns.
Murray's passing prop for the upcoming season is set at over/under 3999.5 yards. He has never gone over this number, but would have if he didn't miss three games last season. His over/under for touchdowns thrown is set at 25.5, a number he has gone under in two of three seasons. Murray's interception prop is lined at 12.5 interceptions. He had 10 last year and has gone under in all three seasons. On the ground, Murray's over/under for rushing yards is set at 524.5 yards. He had just 423 last season, but went over this number in his first two seasons. His over/under for rushing touchdowns is 6.5 scores. He had 5 last season.
James Conner is just 28-to-1 to lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns despite the fact he finished tied for second in the category last season. Conner is currently the fourth most popular bet to lead the league in rushing. He's 66-to-1 to lead the NFL in rushing yards.
In terms of season-long props, Conner's over/unders are set at 824.5 rushing yards and 9.5 touchdowns. He had 752 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. While some touchdown regression is expected, the departure of Chase Edmonds might lead to more carries for Conner to help him pile up some more yards.
Hollywood Brown is reunited with his college quarterback as the Kyler-Brown connection originally formed in Norman now hopefully carries over to Arizona. Brown is 40-to-1 to lead the league in receiving yards in his first season with the Cardinals. Those odds are tied for 19th best with the likes of Keenan Allen and D.K. Metcalf. Hollywood is 35-to-1 to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns, the 16th best odds. He's 80-to-1 to lead the league in receptions.
Brown's season-long props are set at over/under 70.5 receptions, 924.5 receiving yards and 6.5 receiving touchdowns. Last season with Baltimore, Brown had 91 catches for 1008 yards and 6 scores.
Other Cardinals' props
Zach Ertz's season-long props are set at over/under 60.5 receptions, 649.5 receiving yards and 4.5 touchdowns. Last season with Arizona, Ertz had 56 receptions, 574 yards and 3 touchdowns in just 11 games while still acclimating to his new team and learning a new offense.
Kliff Kingsbury is 30-to-1 to win NFL Coach of the Year.
Bettors are fading Arizona in Week 1
The Arizona Cardinals open their season by hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. It's a tough task to open your season with such a formidable opponent, and bettors don't love Arizona's chances. Arizona is currently a 4.5-point home underdog against the Chiefs.
Currently at BetMGM, just 24% of bets and 11% of the money is backing Arizona to cover the spread. When this line was first released early in the summer, Arizona was just a 3-point underdog. However, a wave of one-sided action has moved this line 1.5-points in Kansas City's favor. If you like Arizona to pull off the upset, the Cardinals are +165 to win the game outright.
The total for this game is set at 53.5-points. That is the highest total for any of the sixteen Week 1 games.