The William Hill Sportsbook released its initial Over/Under projections for the 2021 NFL Season.
This would place the Cardinals in the middle of the pack, akin to where they finished in 2020.
With a 17th game added to the schedule, it gives the Cardinals and other teams an additional chance to hit their Over/Under mark. So if you bet the over and the Cards are sitting at 8-8 entering the final game of the season, you can still profit with the Over.
Today’s post will provide a few tidbits.
1. Analyzing the Arizona Cardinals Roster
The Cardinals are all-in for 2021. We know this because they signed a plethora of old faces, all of whom are former Pro Bowlers. Names like J.J. Watt, Malcolm Butler, Rodney Hudson (trade), and A.J. Green have put together stellar NFL careers.
The Cardinals also replaced departed running back Kenyan Drake with James Conner, a solid but injury-prone RB2.
The question regarding the Cardinals’ roster is this: Can the 10-plus year veterans continue to play at a high level?
J.J. Watt has declined in recent seasons. However, he has declined in J.J. Watt statistics. Meaning he’s still performing at a higher-than-average level. Ditto for Hudson, listed as an All-Pro in 2019. Opponents targeted Butler often, but he continued to hold his own as a CB1 in 2020 with the Titans.
Green, however, has stumbled since 2018. And thus far, he does not provide a decent WR2 option to supersede Christian Kirk or replace Larry Fitzgerald. The latter of whom has yet to decide on returning for another season or retiring.
It’s playoffs or bust for the Cardinals in 2021.
2. Strengths of the Arizona Cardinals in 2021
The Cardinals had one of the most explosive offenses in football until Thanksgiving, when quarterback Kyler Murray sprained his AC joint. Predictably, Murray wasn’t the same after the injury, and the offense collectively struggled.
Now back at 100 percent, expect to see the Cardinals’ offense once again become who they were before Murray went down.
They already have the best receiver in football with DeAndre Hopkins, and if the Cardinals draft a legit WR2 in the first or second round of the NFL Draft, expect more explosive plays in 2021.
Their defense was also going strong in 2020 until the injury bug hit the defensive line. Before the rash of injuries, the line got a good push on opposing offenses, and their talented linebackers converged often, especially in the pass rush. If the line remains healthy in 2021, watch out.
Expect even more from PFWA All-Rookie Team Member Isaiah Simmons as he steps into a starting role. Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson have potential to become one of the top safety duos in football.
3. Weaknesses of the Arizona Cardinals
The running back duo of Conner and Edmonds is hit or miss. If Conner remains healthy, expect an upgrade from Kenyan Drake. However, if injuries hit Conner, expect the Cardinals to go one-dimensional.
Chase Edmonds is a great back, but he has proven incapable of carrying the full load. The other backs on the squad have little playing experience.
The Cardinals can’t expect Green to do this, with him having underperformed or being hit with injuries since 2018. Maxx Williams is their most talented tight end, and he has a little over 80 receptions since his rookie season in 2015.
They also remain weak at cornerback.
- They re-signed Robert Alford, but he hasn’t played in 2 seasons because of injuries.
- Byron Murphy is not the same player when put on an island.
- And Butler can only cover one side of the field.
The Cardinals need one more solid corner.
Also, their special teams was one of the worst in football in 2020. Both punter Andy Lee and new kicker Matt Prater have a combined age of 75. And both struggled in 2020, with Lee putting up some of the worst numbers among punters and Prater converting on just 75 percent of his field goals.
Prater converted a meager 58 percent of his field goals from 40-plus yards.
The Cardinals still lack a solid return man. And don’t expect them to burn a draft pick on one. The return game struggled in 2020, and often they placed key players in such situations, which is never a good combination.
4. The Arizona Cardinals Schedule
The Cardinals play one of the toughest schedules in 2021, and it starts with 6 games in their own division. The Seahawks and Rams made the playoffs in 2020, and the Cardinals finished 1-3 against them.
We can give the San Francisco 49ers a free pass here, despite their 7-9 record.
The Cardinals also have the misfortune of playing the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, 2 teams who will threaten for the playoffs in 2021. The Packers have finished 13-3 in each of the past 2 seasons, and the Vikings dealt with opt outs and inexperience on defense. Expect them to be better.
If that wasn’t enough, their 17th game comes against the team who finished in third place in the AFC North: the Cleveland Browns.
So expect the Cardinals to have a tough time on the road.
They get a break, however, with the Carolina Panthers, entering just Year 2 of their rebuild. Plus, expect little from the rest of the NFC North, as the Chicago Bears will turn to Andy Dalton in what figures to be a bridge season. And the Lions have among the league’s weakest rosters.
The final opponent to discuss, the Dallas Cowboys, are the wild card. On one hand, the Cowboys have one of the strongest offenses in football. The returning Dak Prescott strengthens them. On the other, their defense remains full of holes. And one draft won’t fix them.
5. Can the Arizona Cardinals Best Their Over/Under?
The Cardinals did enough in free agency to fill most of their gaps. And they did so with players who accomplished big things during their careers.
If the old guys have another season in them, the Cardinals may surprise.
However, their schedule remains tough. Expect them to win no more than 2 intra-divisional games in 2021. This means they must finish 7-4 in their remaining games.
Games against the Browns and Packers will test them more than any other outside the division. You can even add the Vikings and Cowboys to the mix. Finally, they’re evenly matched against the Titans and Colts.
Now, these are just predictions, and a lot can happen between now and kickoff in September. But from a realistic standpoint, the Cardinals are a high-risk, high-reward bet for the Over/Under.
The Cardinals are a better football team. Problem is, the teams they’re playing have improved.
- The Cowboys are better with Dak.
- The Browns have fixed their defense.
- And all 3 division rivals have strengthened their rosters.
- Plus, the Colts got their man at QB1 in Carson Wentz.
And we don’t even need to talk about the Packers and perhaps the Vikings. The Cardinals have competition, even if they boast a stronger roster for 2021.
What are your thoughts? Are the Cardinals a good Over/Under wager at the NFL betting sites for 2021, or are they still the same old, underperforming Arizona Cardinals? Tell us your thoughts in the comments. We cannot wait to read your opinion.