Two seasons ago, the Arizona Cardinals were a 13-3 team that reached the NFC championship game only to get annihilated by Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Last season, the team went 7-8-1 straight up and just 6-10 against the spread in a horrible division. So, the question is, has the window shut in the desert?
The two faces of the franchise, quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, will be 37 and 34 respectively at the start of the regular season so the clock is certainly ticking. Still, Fitz caught over 100 balls and eclipsed 1,000 yards and Palmer broke the 4,000-yard barrier so it’s not like they don’t contribute. They still certainly do.
Furthermore, the Cards lost some big pieces in the offseason, most notably defensive end Calais Campbell, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. On that side of the ball, they also lost Kevin Minter, D.J. Swearinger and Tony Jefferson and brought in Antoine Bethea, Karlos Dansby and Jarvis Jones.
They drafted defense early with Haason Reddick out of Temple and safety Budda Baker out of Washington, so they’ve got two young pieces that just might be able to contribute out of the gate. Plus, it’s Year 2 of Robert Nkemdiche so the young guys on that side of the ball should be exciting.
While the defense SHOULD be good again (allowed the second-fewest yards per game in 2016), I think we can all agree that potentially the most important factor for Arizona in 2017 is going to be health. And I’m looking at you, Carson Palmer and Tyrann Mathieu.
At 37, Palmer doesn’t have a lot of time left and, frankly, this might be it. In four years with the Cards, he’s largely remained on the field, save for the 2014 campaign, and been quite productive. Mathieu, on the other hand, has seen the IR in three of his four pro seasons. Cards fans and backers would obviously LOVE a full 16 out of the star safety.
Before we move on to some Cards futures, I did some digging and the Cards were immediate fade material in one betting spot in particular that you’ll want to pay attention to in 2017: 1 p.m. start times. They went 0-5 ATS one season ago when kicking off in the early games and have six spots on the 2017 schedule so keep your eyes peeled on those specific betting opportunities (weeks 1, 2, 5, 7, 11, 15).
In any event, we’re here to talk futures so let’s have a look at some of Arizona’s markets entering the 2017 season:
Super Bowl +3300
Entering the 2016 regular season, the Cards were +1200 to win Super Bowl LI and one year later, they’re +3300 around the same time. How the mighty have fallen?
While the 49ers and Rams are clearly in rebuild mode, it feels like the Cardinals might be headed there, too. Could we get one more electric season out of Palmer and the offense? Absolutely. They were ninth in the NFL in total offense last season, after all.
Also, the division is weak and there is an outside chance that the Cardinals can win the NFC West. An injury in Seattle could be the Seahawks’ undoing and then the Cards could catch fire at the right time. Anything is possible. But let’s not talk ourselves into anything too crazy.
NFC West +300
The Seattle Seahawks are the clear faves at -275, but that seems a bit steep and I’m not so sure the two front-runners in this thin division are separated by that much. The Cards are sitting there at +300 (for the time being) so a little play on this futures bet wouldn’t go amiss.
With that 13-3 record two years ago, the Cards captured their third NFC West crown – all coming in the last nine years. Yeah, last season was forgettable, but with this price tag, it’s the play in the division, in my eyes. They get to play the 49ers and Rams twice (the Cards went 4-1-1 in the division last season) and they have the 23rd-ranked strength of schedule.
This bet shouldn’t be reserved for faithful Cards backers only. This is a Cards futures wager that is worth it.
Win Total – 8
And so is this one.
As mentioned, the schedule isn’t the toughest around and the division isn’t filled with playoff contenders either. That makes backing OVER 8 an intriguing play for 2017.
My guess – at the very best – is that they go 5-1 in the division. I can’t imagine them going worse than 3-3 in the division, so I’m gonna say 4-2. Can they get five more wins in that schedule? Play well on the road at the beginning of the season (Week 1 @ Detroit, Week 2 @ Indy, Week 5 @ Philly) and this team is going to eclipse the 8 that’s on the board.
You could talk about backing the UNDER here, and I’d listen, but as it stands right now, I’ll be on the OVER all damn day (even with the crazy chalk at my shop).
David Johnson Most Rushing Yards +300
Yeah, nothing crazy here. Johnson was around 400 yards behind league leader Ezekiel Elliott last season and he had the third-lowest yards per carry in the top 10. But this guy is just so versatile out of the backfield. Not only did he rush for 1,239 yards last year, but he caught 80 balls for another 879 yards to lead the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,118.
There are some question marks with the offensive line, which is a middle-of-the-pack line at best. Also, D.J. Humphries makes the switch to LT with Jared Veldheer switching to the other side so the moves at the tackle position will be of note this season. But if it indeed works out, Palmer will be more relieved than anyone else on the roster after the physical abuse he endured in 2016.
Still, Johnson is one of the league’s most exciting players and is fully capable of cashing this bet. Not the greatest value on the board considering who else is being offered up, but it’s worth a shot.
Odds as of August 20 at [custom:bodog-link]
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