Calling all bettors! Since beginning the 2021 season 7-0, the Arizona Cardinals have lost 20 of their last 27 contests. How dramatically might they retool this next season? More pressingly, with solid cap space and decent draft capital, how will free agency and the 2023 NFL draft impact their championship hopes? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the favorite (+650 odds) for the Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t even in the top third.
MORE: NFL Betting History
As the final undefeated team in 2021, the Cardinals might have landed in the top 10 if they’d finished strong. But injures to Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins contributed to a resounding late-season collapse, culminating in an embarrassing 34-11 playoff loss to the Rams — a team they’d outscored by 10 during the regular season.
Instead, on the eve of Week 1, the betting markets were tepid about Arizona’s chances, handing them merely the 14th-best odds (+3500). They finished with the third-worst record, marking a historic collapse for a franchise that recently had looked like a Super Bowl contender.
As we assess if bettors should lean into their current +20000 odds for winning Super Bowl 58 (tied with Houston for the NFL’s worst odds), let’s examine a few key takeaways from the Cardinals’ 2022 campaign.
Kyler Murray, James Conner, DeAndre Hopkins, and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
When the Cardinals drafted Murray, I shared two yellow flags with readers. First, as the only person ever to be drafted in the first round by the NFL and Major League Baseball — and with MLB’s Oakland Athletics still retaining his rights — Murray has maintained interest in playing baseball again someday. This is concerning for a heavily invested Arizona franchise that needs him to remain 100% focused on football.
Second, when the Cards drafted him, I couldn’t find evidence of any successful NFL QB (Doug Flutie came closest) who was 5’10” or less. Murray is listed as 5’10”. A post-draft 2019 photo of Murray next to college teammate Marquise Brown raised more questions about Murray’s height.
Murray has missed nine of Arizona’s last 26 regular-season games. In 2022, he ran the ball fewer times per game than in 2021 and much fewer than in 2020. His yards after contact have dwindled each successive season, and he endured a career-worst QB rating last season. And so on.
Murray was drafted No. 1 overall in 2019 to serve as Arizona’s long-term franchise-elevating quarterback. Instead, injuries to him (and, in fairness, to his key playmakers) made 2022 a forgettable year. He peaked in 2020. We don’t yet know if he’ll hit a new peak, or if his body won’t be able to hold up to the rigors of offseasons, preseasons, regular seasons, and (if they’re fortunate) postseasons.
We also don’t yet know if Murray’s recent statistical downturns are additional warning signs that defenses have begun to figure him out. To help elevate Murray and the team, Arizona went all in three years ago by acquiring Hopkins, followed by Zach Ertz two years ago, and then Brown last spring. Although they let Christian Kirk walk, they had a “win-now” trio.
Except things didn’t go as planned last year. Hopkins was suspended for the first six contests. An injured Brown missed the next five, and Ertz was knocked out early in Week 10, missing the rest of the season. These three never shared the field. They were 0-4 when Hopkins and Brown started together. It was a mess.
The funny thing is, Brown played well in Hopkins’ absence, and Hopkins played like the legend he is in Brown’s absence. But giving up the league’s second-most points, Arizona needed more.
James Conner was supposed to give them more. In fairness, the veteran RB earned a huge payday last offseason, in part, because he scored 18 times in 2021. While he’s entirely capable of carrying the load, his yards after contact and broken-tackle rate plummeted in 2022 to career lows.
Last offseason, Arizona parted ways with Chase Edmonds and handed Conner a front-loaded three-year contract. Dating back to college, he’s regressed sharply and/or dealt with massive injuries each season following a 200+ carry campaign.
For the sake of his longevity, Conner might be better suited to a complementary 150-175 touch role than as a bell cow. We’ll see whether the Cardinals agree and bring in a 1B running back to support him.
2023 Offseason Moves
Ertz will turn 33 this season, while Hopkins will turn 31 this summer. In May, Conner will turn a relatively “old” 28. Meanwhile, Murray doesn’t appear to be improving, and his body might or might not be breaking down. The Cards’ defense needs major help.
This is a team in transition, but it cannot yet afford to tear down and rebuild — not while the seemingly capable offensive core of Murray, Conner, Hopkins, Brown, and Ertz remains on their payroll.
But yes, there is a path for this team to do damage in 2023. It begins and ends with their defense. Arizona has the cap space and draft picks to fill some major holes.
Seattle proved last year that a good offense (ninth in scoring) and relatively beatable defense (eighth-most points surrendered) could limp into the playoffs in the NFC West. If Arizona’s key playmakers can remain healthy, and if they can make meaningful strides on defense, then they could be one of the best “worst-odds” teams the NFL has ever seen.
NFL Free Agency
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with breaking news on key Cardinals arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to bet on them to somehow win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Cardinals draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any instant-impact players who could help catapult them into Super Bowl consideration.
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