Arizona Cardinals look to build on a stellar 2014 regular season. We take the liberty of making some bold predictions for Bruce Arians charges in the coming NFL 2015-2016 season.
Arizona Cardinals Move On
Arizona Cardinals must move on from the disappointing end to their 2014 campaign, which ended in the first round of the NFL playoffs as they were hobbled by injury most significantly at the quarterback position. Indeed, they were scraping the barrel by then, down to their fourth quarterback choice. Unfortunately, he wasn't up to the task and the Cardinals were unable to get past the surging Carolina Panthers in the wild card round.
Looking ahead, the prognosis appears to be favorable for the Cardinals. In the last two seasons, they've been the team on the up in the NFC West with an average of 10.5 wins per season. And with the demise of the San Francsico 49ers, they seem primed to take over the role of main rivals to Seattle Seahawks.
Bruce Arians runs a tight ship and knows how to get the best out of the players at his disposal, a talent that prompted his recognition for the Coach of the Year Award last season. The Cardinals do have the fifth toughest schedule in the NFL, though, boasting a 0.557 winning percentage. That could partly explain why odds makers have set the bar rather low at 8.5 season win totals. Then again, when they had the eighth toughest schedule last season that boasted a 0.547 winning percentage they defied the NFL odds admirably. What's to say they can't do so again with an NFL schedule that is barely 2% tougher.
So, without too much fuss, here are some bold predictions for the Arizona Cardinals. Don't expect run-of-the-mill predictions. Bold predictions are by nature brave, courageous and seemingly outlandish. However, not so improbable as one might think at first glance.
1. Arizona Cardinals wins the NFC West at +650
On the strength of their run last season, this might not seem to be a very bold prediction. However, when you look deeper into the NFC West standings, the Cardinals have only twice won the NFC West title since moving into the division in 2002. Those precious divisional titles came during the Kurt Warner era in 2008 and 2009. So backing the Cardinals, at their whopping +650 NFL odds at Bet365, to win the NFC West title is a bold pick. Another thing that makes it a very bold statement is that it would have to come at the expense of the Seattle Seahawks, who appear to be the preordained faves across all NFL betting markets.
2. Arizona Cardinals To Make Playoffs at +175
Once again, this doesn't seem to be a bold NFL pick given their account last season. It is though when one takes a look at the Cardinals' record in the regular season since joining the NFC West. Two division titles and three playoff appearances. That and the tempting +175 NFL odds currently trading for them to accomplish the feat for a second straight season, fourth overall appearance representing the NFC West.
3. Carson Palmer Gives Chase To Passing Leaders
Carson Palmer finished 35th in the Passing Leaders column last season with 1,626 yards, which saw him hobnob with the likes of Shaun Hill, Charlie Wisenhurst and Robert Griffin III in the basement of the standings. It's worth reminding, however, that he only played six games last season before suffering a torn ACL injury.
Crucially, in those six appearances, he was averaging an impressive 271 yards per game, which lifts him up the charts to eighth overall and puts him JUST 3 yards per game behind MVP Aaron Rodgers. (He also boasted a 62.9 completion percentage and 11 touchdowns in six games).
Put another way, had he maintained his rate of production through the course of the season he was on target for at least 4,336 yards (16 x 271 yards per game). When looking at his game logs for the six games, the way the Cardinals were playing one gets the sense he could have gone higher had he remained healthy. Twice he went above 300 yards per game when he threw 304 yards in the first week against San Diego and 329 yards in week 4 against Philadelphia.
Of course, it's more likely that Drew Brees, Ben Roethelisberger, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning will win this category, but it's not impossible. That's why it's a bold NFL pick to back Carson Palmer to beat the NFL odds as the +5000 long shot.