Heading into the 2016 season, most sportsbooks were giving the reigning NFC West Champions, the Arizona Cardinals, pretty good odds to win the division for the second year in a row. They might not have been the favorite (that honor belonged to the Seattle Seahawks) but the Cardinals still had the 2nd best odds to win the NFC West. Unfortunately for fans of the Cardinals, Arizona hasn’t quite been living up to its preseason expectations. The Cardinal’s woes began when they faced the New England Patriots in their 2016 debut.
Arizona was unable to overcome New England despite the fact that the Patriots were without Tom Brady. The following week the Cardinals put on a strong 40-7 showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that doesn’t really prove anything considering how poor of a team Tampa Bay is. From there the Cardinals lost two games in a row against teams that are in no way shape or form considered elite; the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams.
With those two losses the Cardinals were quickly losing ground in the NFC West. This past Thursday, the Cardinals faced the San Francisco 49ers and were able to defeat their NFC West rival, but their performance left a lot to be desired. With that win, the Cardinals advanced to 2-3, but they haven’t made much headway into making the playoffs. It’s safe to say the odds have adjusted, specifically the ones regarding your bet on NFL futures.
Odds to Win NFC Championship
Arizona Cardinals +1000
Green Bay Packers +410
Seattle Seahawks +375
Minnesota Vikings +480
Odds to Win Super Bowl LI
Arizona Cardinals +2500
New England Patriots +400
Seattle Seahawks +750
Green Bay Packers +900
As you can see, the sportsbooks are starting to think less and less of the Cardinals. Most of Arizona’s problems stem from incompetence on offense. The Cardinals’ defense is one of better units within the NFL, but offensively the Cards aren’t quite finding the rhythm they were known for in 2015. The most crippling aspects of Arizona’s offense is their inability to convert on third downs, as well as poor pass protection. So far this season Arizona has only converted 28/70 third downs, and while that equates to a 40% success rate, it doesn’t equate to too many wins. Pass protection wise, the Cardinals have already allotted 18 sacks, which has given way to Carson Palmer’s 5 interceptions.
Palmer has done an adequate job of dodging defenders and trying to find an open man so far this season. Heading into Week 6 the 14-year veteran sports an 81.9 passer rating, but will Palmer be enough to lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl? Looking over the Super Bowl winners over the last couple years it’s pretty obvious that Arizona might need something more than Palmer. Palmer doesn’t rank as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. No, most critics would categorize Palmer as a veteran quarterback capable of leading his team to the playoffs.
Which Palmer is perfectly capable of doing, evident by the success the Cardinals enjoyed with him at the helm last year. But Palmer couldn’t lead Arizona to the Super Bowl, and even if he had it’s unlikely they would’ve won. You would have to go back to 2003 to find a team that won a Super Bowl with a veteran quarterback, instead of a franchise quarterback like the other 13 teams had. Trent Dilfer led the Bucs to a Super Bowl win, but the NFL has changed tremendously in 13 years. In today’s NFL, teams need more than just a veteran quarterback, and the sportsbooks know that all too well.