Our NFL handicapper continues his coverage of the NFC West. Here he looks at the win total posted for the Arizona Cardinals and advises bettors to stay away from the wager.
The Arizona Cardinals have already begun trying to protect their aging quarterback Carson Palmer. He will be limited in his throwing this offseason in an attempt to keep his arm strength throughout the season. His throws started to lose their muster halfway through 2016, and fatigue was apparently to blame. The other issue in protecting Palmer is the offensive line, where the Cardinals are currently mixing it up and switching D.J. Humphries to left tackle. I don’t know if that will help Palmer from getting sacked as much, but it can’t get much worse for him than his career-high 40 sacks taken last year.
Arizona finished 2016 with a 7-8-1 record, which would be short of the 8-game win total currently listed for them at Bovada. The question then is: Have the Cardinals improved over last year or just gotten older?
The Cardinals did make some moves to address the losses in free agency on the defensive line, but I don’t expect that unit to have the type of effect it did last season. The Cardinals led the NFL with 48 sacks, although I’d say that line is inflated a bit by getting to play against San Francisco's, Los Angeles' and Seattle’s offensive lines a combined six times on the season. The defense also allowed 297.7 yards per game in 2016, good for 3rd in the NFL. All that still only won the Cards seven games on the year. And that is with the sixth-ranked scoring offense.
In my original schedule breakdown for Arizona this year, one thing stuck out that will be a huge hurdle to overcome and that is 10 a.m. Pacific time road starts. The Cardinals have 5 of them on the season, and coming through those games with a winning record would be just short of a miracle. If there is any upside in relation to this is that the first two games of the season are 10 a.m. starts and Palmer should still be healthy in Week 1 in Detroit at least. Arizona is an early 2.5-point dog on NFL odds.
In the end, I place Palmer as a Tier 2 quarterback in his current form. And if you just look at the Cardinals’ schedule from head-to-head quarterback matchups it is hard seeing them winning more than 8 games this year, especially with the tough road matchups. This totals line is sharp in my opinion, and I will be passing on the win total of 8 as I am predicting an 8-8 season for Arizona in 2017.Bet On NFL Futures At SBR's Top Sportsbooks