2020 Team Betting Previews: Cardinals

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2020 Team Betting Previews: Cardinals

The Cardinals broke Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury into the NFL last season, and they turned out to be one of the more profitable teams with a 9-5-2 against-the-spread record, which included a 5-1-2 ATS mark on the road. They finished with a 4-5-1 overall record in one-score games last season, but they went 7-1-1 against the spread in those same contests. The Cardinals needed to turn one more of their one-score losses into a victory to cash in the over for their season win total.

They ended up pushing on their season win total of five with a 5-10-1 overall record, and they failed to make the playoffs (-2000 preseason odds). Kingsbury brought his Texas Tech defense with him from the college ranks — they allowed the fifth-most points per game (27.6) — as the Cardinals played over the total in nine of their 16 games. Murray also did his part to cash some overs as he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year after opening as a +260 favorite last spring.

The Cardinals are getting a lot more respect in the betting markets this summer after a strong off-season and with Murray and Kingsbury entering their second seasons. Arizona’s 2020 season win total has jumped by two victories from 2019 up to seven, and they’re +265 to make the playoffs in the new expanded 14-team format. Entering training camp, I have the Cardinals power rated as the 19th-best team in the NFL (+5000 to win Super Bowl LV), as the 10th-best team in the NFC (+2500 to win the conference), and as the fourth-best team in the NFC West (+750 to win the division).

2020 Schedule

WeekOpponent (spread if available)Time
1@San Francisco 49ers (+8)4:25
2Washington Redskins (-6.5)4:05
3Detroit Lions4:25
4@Carolina Panthers1
5@New York Jets (+1)1
6@Dallas Cowboys8:15 (Mon)
7Seattle Seahawks4:05
8BYEBYE
9Miami Dolphins4:25
10Buffalo Bills4:05
11@Seattle Seahawks8:20 (Thurs)
12@New England Patriots (+5.5)1
13Los Angeles Rams4:05
14@New York Giants (+1.5)1
15Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5)4:05
16San Francisco 49ersTBA
17@Los Angeles Rams4:25

Key Off-season Moves

Additions

DeAndre Hopkins (WR)

Isaiah Simmons (S/LB)

De’Vondre Campbell (LB)

Jordan Phillips (DT)

Devon Kennard (LB)

Departures

David Johnson (RB, Hou)

Damiere Byrd (WR, NE)

Charles Clay (TE, FA)

A.Q. Shipley (C, FA)

Pharoh Cooper (WR, Car)

2020 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)7 (-130/+107)
NFC West+750
Playoffs (Y/N)+250/-360
NFC Championship+2500
Super Bowl+5000

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Cardinals are the second-hottest team this off-season, behind the Buccaneers, thanks in large part to their theft of DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans. Nuk’s acquisition dramatically improved the receivers around Kyler Murray, and Kliff Kingsbury is now loaded with some of the best skill-position talent in the league. If you consider Hopkins as part of their draft haul, the Cardinals easily had one of the best drafts by landing S/LB Isaiah Simmons, Hopkins, and OT Josh Jones with their first three picks.

Murray could be poised to take a big step forward in his development after his first full off-season (as full as it can get this year) as the team’s starting quarterback. We’ve seen Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson post MVP seasons in similar situations in their second seasons. The Cardinals defense should be improved at all three levels too after allowing the most yards per game (402.0) and finishing in the bottom-10 in defensive DVOA. They added potential starters in Simmons, NT Jordan Phillips, ILB De’Vondre Campbell, and EDGE Devon Kennard this off-season. CB Patrick Peterson will also be available at the start of the season after missing the first six games to suspension last season.

The Cardinals also have a legit chance to get off to a 4-1 start with an easy opening slate (@SF, Was, Det, @Car, @NYJ) before their schedule turns much more difficult starting in Week 6 against the Cowboys.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

The Cardinals may be one of the hottest teams this off-season, but they’ll have six games against teams in the best division in the league. Arizona will also need to win an additional three games more than it did in 2019 to clear their season win total this season, which is a bit of a big ask.

I wrote earlier that Murray is looking to have a second season like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, but it could also go the other way for Murray and the Cardinals like it did for Baker Mayfield and the Browns last season. After a great off-season in which they landed one of the top WRs in the league, Cleveland was asked to improve by three wins to clear their 2019 season win total (9.5). We all know how that turned out.

The Cardinals have made strides to improve their defense this off-season, but they still need to improve their pass rush behind Chandler Jones. Arizona’s cornerback play also needs to dramatically improve after Patrick Peterson’s performance slipped coming off his six-game suspension last season. Arizona’s O-line outperformed expectations last season but it still wasn’t a great unit, and they failed to significantly improve the group for 2020 unless Josh Jones can come in and play well immediately as a third-round pick.

The Cardinals could be on the verge of passing their season win total fairly early this season, but they could struggle to get over the finish line with a brutal close to the seasons starting in Week 10 (Buf, @Sea, @NE, LAR, @NYG, Phi, SF, @LAR).

Notable Player Props

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Kyler Murray: passing yards (3850.5), passing TDs (25.5), rushing yards (475.5), most passing yards (+2500), and MVP (+2500).

Fantasy Points Projections: passing yards (4125), passing TDs (26.5), rushing yards (460)

  • Best-case scenario: Murray and DeAndre Hopkins hit it off immediately and the 2019 #1 overall pick keeps the line moving behind Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson as the next young quarterback to make an MVP-level leap in his second season.

  • Worst-case scenario: Murray gets limited opportunities to work with Nuk before the start of the season and their on-field chemistry is a work in progress, which causes Murray’s YPA to float around 7.0 once again.

DeAndre Hopkins: receiving yards (1150.5), most receptions (+1600), OPOY (+4000)

Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (1195), receptions (85)

  • Best-case scenario: Hopkins rebounds from his career-worst 11.2 YPR with his move into Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, and he easily overtakes Christian Kirk as the top target, who averaged 8.3 targets per game last season.
  • Worst-case scenario: Nuk’s game has never been built on creating separation, which could be amplified this season playing with a quarterback whom he has no chemistry with. Kyler Murray will have to quickly trust Nuk in contested-catch situations or Hopkins’ production will tail off from his Texans days.

Kenyan Drake: rushing yards (975.5), rushing + receiving yards (1375.5)

Fantasy Points Projections: rushing yards (1035), rushing + receiving yards (1400)

  • Best-case scenario: Drake keeps up his blistering pace from the end of last season when he averaged 101.8 scrimmage yards per game on 18.9 touches per game in his eight contests after joining the Cardinals.
  • Worst-case scenario: Drake once again can’t put together a complete 16-game season as a true lead back, and he creates backfield competition with a slow start. The Cardinals mix in Chase Edmonds since they aren’t tied to Drake past this season.

Christian Kirk: receiving yards (725.5)

Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (795)

  • Best-case scenario: Kirk’s breakout campaign comes a year later than expected, and Kyler Murray’s attempts are more evenly distributed than anticipated with DeAndre Hopkins’ arrival.
  • Worst-case scenario: Hopkins continues to be a ball hog with the Cardinals and Arizona’s second-year WRs are relevant after quiet rookie campaigns, which evaporates Kirk’s 23% target share from last season.

Best Bets and Leans

Be sure to check out all of our staff Best Bets for NFL Futures.

I don’t have any strong opinions when it comes to any of the Cardinals’ season and player props, and I’ll be staying away from all of their wagers. Arizona’s win total is sitting in the perfect spot at seven wins, and I would lean toward the under at seven and a half wins, which have started to pop up since they’re one of the hottest teams this off-season. I’d get down now if you’re looking to bet the Cardinals over their seven-win mark because the public momentum should continue to build in August. I’d hold off until closer to the season on an under bet for better odds or to potentially get an extra half win.

The value has been completely sucked out of Kyler Murray’s MVP odds at +2500, and I have a difficult time seeing the Cardinals climbing to the top of the division and the conference to give him a legit chance of winning the award. I would still lean toward betting Murray over 3850.5 passing yards with our projections forecasting him for nearly 275 more yards. In Year Two with Kliff Kingsbury and with DeAndre Hopkins in the fold, I’m expecting Murray to be more efficient this season than he was last year with his 6.9 YPA average.

Best Bets: None

Leans: Cardinals under 7.5 wins (-110, betonline.ag), Murray over 3850.5 passing yards (-110, DraftKings)

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.