Arizona Cardinals In Danger Of Missing the Playoffs?
November 28, 2020
There were not a whole lot of eyes on the Arizona Cardinals when the season began. Kyler Murray was good enough to win Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, but they only won five games.
Kliff Kingsbury was not terrible in his first season—but they only won five games. In a league where winning is all that matters, that is unacceptable.
But there seemed to be some magic brewing on the offensive side of the ball. If Kingsbury and Murray could progress in their second year in the NFL, the Cardinals could be fun to watch this season.
But win the Super Bowl (+4667), NFC Championship (+2350), or the NFC West (+675)? No way. Too much had to go right for them just to get into the playoffs (+238).
Then they opened the season with a big win over the San Francisco 49ers before injuries decimated the 49ers. Maybe the Cardinals could make some noise—but then they went 1-2 against Washington, Detroit, and Carolina.
For a moment, the excitement died down, but then Kyler Murray led the Cardinals to an overtime win against the previously undefeated Seattle Seahawks.
However, their odds really took a turn for the better following their win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 10 combined with the Los Angeles Rams handing the Seahawks their third loss.
It was at that time when the NFC West appeared to be shaping up for a tight three-team race (Seahawks +150, Rams +180, Cardinals +205).
But then they lost to the Seahawks last week, and their odds to win the division shot up. Heading into Week 12, their NFC West odds are +600 (Seattle +125 and Los Angeles +100; odds via DraftKings). It does not look like they are going to win the division, but what about making the playoffs?
The Road to the Playoffs For the Arizona Cardinals
Following the loss to Seattle, they are now 6-4. If the playoffs were to start this week, they would be the No. 7 seed. With floundering Chicago Bears sitting at No. 8 with a 5-5 record followed by the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers, it even looks like they have a little cushion.
Of their six remaining games, the Patriots, Giants, Eagles, and 49ers are all winnable games. But the two games against the Rams? Eh, they could win, but the odds are going to be stacked against them.
Both teams have good offenses, but the Cardinals have the better one between the two from a statistical perspective. Defensively, though, the Rams have a significant edge. The Rams are No. 1 in yards allowed per game and No. 2 in scoring.
The Cardinals are 19th in total yards allowed and 14th in scoring.
Games are not won according to stats, of course, but for argument’s sake, let’s say the Rams win both games. That means the Cardinals will finish 10-6, which will likely be good enough to earn a wildcard spot this year.
Chicago would have to go 5-1 down the stretch just to match that, and the Vikings and 49ers would have to run the table. Neither of those three things are going to happen.
So – How Should You Bet?
Before answering that question, there is one other important point to consider. Kyler Murray hurt his shoulder last week against the Seahawks.
While he will be active this week against the Patriots without an injury designation, all it takes is one hard hit for the aches and pains to come right back.
If he has to miss a game or is not at his best, they could lose a game or two down the stretch that they shouldn’t. While they have some space on everyone else right now, if the Bears and Vikings start winning games, that cushion is going to go away.
Without Murray, the offense simply is not going to work. But a possible injury should not be enough to scare you off a bet. However, the strong likelihood that the Rams and/or Seahawks will finish with 11,12, or 13 wins should tell you not to bet on the Cardinals to win the NFC West.
As for the NFC Championship (+1400) and Super Bowl (+3000), the Cardinals are at best a potential dark horse for both. That means only bet money you are okay with losing since you probably will not see it again.