Arizona Cardinals Offer The Best Value Odds To Win Super Bowl 51

Sterling Xie

Sunday, May 8, 2016 5:19 PM UTC

Sunday, May. 8, 2016 5:19 PM UTC

After the NFL Draft shifted the Super Bowl odds for several teams, the Arizona Cardinals come out as the best value in the league. Get the details in this insightful betting analysis.

The NFL draft is always the last major event of the football offseason. As the last opportunity for every team to add impact talent to its roster, the personnel construction portion of the year unofficially ends at the draft’s conclusion, leaving us waiting until training camp for the NFL to reclaim the spotlight.

Consequently, we often see a noticeable shift in the Super Bowl NFL odds in the days after the draft. While the talent added may not have the same splash as a top veteran free agent, the sheer volume may allow a team to address many of its existing holes, thereby changing the outlook of the upcoming season. At the same time, though, a potential overreaction to draft trends allows savvy bettors to exploit this movement and unearth better futures values.

With this in mind, the Arizona Cardinals currently look like the best value to win Super Bowl 51, best on odds released by Bovada and the Westgate LV Superbook. The Cardinals opened at 10-to-1, but have seen their odds drop to 14-to-1 since the draft. That currently places Arizona with the sixth-shortest odds, though their division rival Seattle Seahawks are seen as favorites in the NFC West, with 8-to-1 Super Bowl odds.

Nevertheless, there are reasons to believe that Arizona’s NFC Championship run was not a one-off flash in 2015. By Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, a measure of opponent-adjusted per-play efficiency, the Cardinals were one of two teams with a top five offense and defense, along with Seattle. The Cardinals finished third in overall DVOA, and their point differential supported their 13-3 surface record, suggesting that Arizona was not the beneficiary of good fortune to inflate their win-loss record. In fact, only the Carolina Panthers finished with a better point differential last season.

This spring, Steve Keim has aggressively attempted to patch up what weaknesses do exist on this roster. The Cardinals’ Achilles’ heel last season was its pass rush. Though Arizona finished with a respectable 36 sacks, a roughly league-average number, the Cardinals relied on a blitz-heavy approach which was susceptible to big busts on the back end. Thus, Arizona actually only ranked 27th in adjusted sack rate, suggesting a rush which never generated consistent down-to-down pressure.

However, Arizona should produce much more consistent pressure in 2016, having traded for bendy three-down edge rusher Chandler Jones and drafted talented 3-technique Robert Nkemdiche in the first round. Nkemdiche has character concerns which led to his availability in the first place, but scouts generally saw him as a top 10 to 15 talent on the field. Bruce Arians has expressed comfort in Nkemdiche’s fit in Arizona’s program, which has garnered a reputation as a very player-friendly one during Arians’ two seasons.

The presence of Jones and Nkemdiche should buttress a shakier secondary. Arizona’s aggressive man-to-man principles work in part because of the brilliant Patrick Peterson, but the cornerback spot opposite Peterson is a big question mark after Jerraud Powers’ offseason departure. Moreover, Tyrann Mathieu is unlikely to begin the season at full strength after tearing his ACL in December, and may not truly recapture his Pro Bowl-level of last season until 2017. But being able to generate a better rush with fewer players can help alleviate many of those concerns on the back end, which should allow Arizona’s defense to remain a top-flight unit.

Paired with an offense that returns 10 of its 11 starters (right tackle Bobby Massie being the only defection), the Cardinals enter 2016 as one of the league’s most well-rounded teams. Perhaps bettors are skittish after Carson Palmer’s disastrous playoff showings. More concerning is Palmer’s age (37 in December), and the fact that last season was just the second time in the past five years that he has started all 16 games. Drew Stanton is a capable backup who could steady the ship for a short-term Palmer absence, but Arizona cannot afford a catastrophic injury like the torn ACL he suffered in 2014.

On paper, Arizona is a top-five team for next season, even if the sportsbooks currently do not see them in that light. Perhaps the specter of Seattle and a possible road-heavy playoff run seems scary, but teams who played on Wild Card weekend won every Super Bowl from 2010-12, as well as 2005-07. There is recent precedent for teams making long runs from disadvantageous seeds, even if the past three champions have all been No. 1 seeds. Regardless of what path they take, Arizona is a strong bet to capture the franchise’s first Super Bowl, especially given the better value they provide bettors at the moment.


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