Arizona Cardinals Season Preview
After a disastrous ending to the 2021 season and a loss in the Wild Card round to the LA Rams, who then went on to win Super Bowl 56, the Cardinals dealt with a rocky offseason. However, the team has its eyes set on the Lombardi Trophy in 2022 and the fanbase feels good on their chances
The latest from most Arizona Betting apps have the Cardinals at Over/Under 8.5 wins this NFL season. After the suspension of DeAndre Hopkins, some may feel this is a tough bet to place, but as I discuss in this article, the offseason was better than expected.
Out with the Old
Like every team each offseason, the Cardinals let players go. This includes notable names such as Chandler Jones, Christian Kirk, Chase Edmonds, and Jordan Hicks, as well as plenty of other role players. The most impactful departure is Chandler Jones, who has the most sacks in the NFL since 2012. Jones has been a star edge rusher for a decade now, and while he is getting older, he’s still one of the best at his position. This leaves an obvious void to be filled if the Cardinals want to get at the QB with the best of them in 2022.
Christian Kirk has been their reliable WR2 over the past few years, so while not as big of a loss as Chandler Jones, he still leaves a role to be filled as well. Edmonds was primarily their RB2 so his departure will be felt even less than the two aforementioned names. Finally, Jordan Hicks will leave a void as a reliable inside linebacker. Hicks is 6th in tackles since 2019, so the Cardinals will need to find another sure-tackler to replace him.
In with the New
The biggest move the Cardinals made this offseason was locking up their own. They re-signed the reliable pass-catching, TE Zach Ertz, to a 3-year $31.65M extension less than a year after trading for him. They also gave RB James Conner a 3-year $21M contract after he broke out for 1,127 all-purpose yards and 18 total TDs. They also added OG Will Hernandez, who if nothing else, was a consistent starter in his four years with the Giants. Their flashiest acquisition was a draft-day trade that sent them star WR Marquise Brown, reuniting him with his former QB at Oklahoma. This move proved timely as superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins tested positive for PEDs and was suspended for 6 games less than a week after the Cardinals made the trade for Brown.
Arizona was also busy on draft day, making eight-player selections. Their selections are as follows:
- Round 2: No. 55 – Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
- Round 3: No. 87 – Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State
- Round 3: No. 100 (from BAL) – Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati
- Round 6: No. 201 – Keontay Ingram, RB, USC
- Round 6: No. 215 – Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech
- Round 7: No. 244 – Christian Matthew, DB, Valdosta State
- Round 7: No. 256 – Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State
- Round 7: No. 257 – Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma
Even without a first-round pick, the Cardinals drafted both quantity and quality. Trey McBride was considered the top TE coming out of college this year, and they drafted him as such. With the Ertz extension, it’s unlikely he does much in his rookie season, but he also could push for more reps as the season wears on. Cameron Thomas broke out in 2021 as he acquired 10.5 sacks, 39 TFLs, and 71 total tackles. Thomas will make a push in camp to be the edge rusher on the other side of JJ Watt and it’s more likely than not he earns that spot before September. Myjai Sanders made a somewhat costly mistake returning to school for his senior year. By almost all statistics and accounts, he played a lot better in 2020 than in 2021. Still, he was a three-year starter at Cincinnati who wracked up 24.5 sacks during that time. He is seen more as a project edge, so don’t expect a lot from him in 2022.
Two names stand out to me from Arizona’s five Day 3 picks. First, Keaontay Ingram. Ingram never felt like he truly broke out at any time during his college career, but he received 142 carries his freshman year, an early indicator of talent, at least from a coaching perspective. He transferred from Texas to USC for his senior year, where he collected 1,067 total yards and 5 TDs. He never had any overly impressive seasons, but he was consistently used in both the run and pass game, showing versatility. Similar to McBride, he’s sitting behind a starter who was just extended, so Ingram probably won’t see the field much in 2022, but he’ll angle for the RB2 job in camp. Ingram is a name to keep an eye out for this summer.
The second name is Marquis Hayes, who was drafted in the 7th round, despite being ranked 103rd on PFF’s draft board and 159th on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board. He was once seen as a Day 2 prospect and there’s a non-zero chance he ends up starting for the Cardinals in 2022. Another name to keep tabs on.
Arizona’s Win Total
After all of these moves, the Cardinals’ win total currently stands at 8.5. This is an intriguing number because it basically says they’re a coin flip team. A 50% chance at winning 17 games would net you… 8.5 wins. This line, then, is relatively simple. If you think the Cardinals will be better than the average team, take the over.
Personally, I would be inclined to bet the over at 8.5. Arizona has won 18 regular-season games over the last two years, including 11 last year. Chandler Jones is probably their biggest loss, but if Cameron Thomas can even achieve 75% of Jones’ production this season, it won’t be that large of a loss. Kyler Murray is still a stud at QB, and might not have even reached his ceiling. He will also have a full year of Zach Ertz and his former college teammate Hollywood Brown to throw to this season. I don’t think the team will take a huge step forward, but I also don’t see them taking a 2.5-win step back. Russ is out of Seattle and the 49ers will probably be starting what is essentially a rookie in Trey Lance, so Arizona also will be playing in a much easier division. If Murray stays healthy, over 8.5 wins seems like a smash play to me.
Jacob White is an avid fan of all things NFL, particularly fantasy football and the Chicago Bears. He is currently studying Economics at Wabash College where he hopes to learn the skills to further his career in the sports entertainment industry. He specializes in redraft, DFS, and best ball, where he routinely finishes at a profit, including a 2020 13-0 finish on the high-stakes KFFSC platform. You can find him on Twitter @FF_JacobWhite for additional advice on all things football and the semi-occasional homer tweet.