It’s a new season for the Arizona Cardinals. A 17-game season awaits the Red Sea in the third year of coach Kliff Kingsbury.
As it stands, Kyler Murray is a top-five favorite contender to win this season’s MVP award. His odds are currently listed at +1600. That makes him on par with Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson, a worthy bet.
Speaking of bets, the State of Arizona is finally launching sports betting this month – just in time for the kickoff. There are a few major sportsbooks that have been approved to operate, but Fanduel is primed for action in Arizona. They were the first to sign an official partnership with a professional sports team and they are the only retailer inside a professional sports stadium.
It’s a time where another playoff miss is not something the franchise can afford, so how far can the Cardinals go? Here’s the fourth of a four-part preview as the 2021 NFL draws closer.
Week 15: @ Detroit Lions
Detroit has been completely reconstructed for 2021. But whether or not it is for the better is another question. New coach Dan Campbell certainly knows how to get a team pumped up, but will the team respond enough for a playoff spot? It’s not likely, but the Cardinals can’t get relaxed, especially if they’re the ones racing towards the postseason.
When the most familiar receivers are tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Darren Fells, that says a lot about how much Detroit’s wideouts have to prove. The running backs look decent with veteran Jamaal Williams complimenting second-year player D’Andre Swift. But that might just be the best part of their game if new quarterback Jared Goff can’t help the receivers succeed. With a strong offensive line, there’s bound to be at least some noise.
Week 16: Vs. Indianapolis Colts
Good grief, the Colts can’t catch a break. First, the new QB in town, Carson Wentz, sustains a foot injury that nearly took him out of Week 1. Then, offensive lineman Quenton Nelson suffers the same injury, whether he’ll play in Week 1 is unclear too. It’s a shame, especially when the Colts appear to be in a good position to stay on the Titans’ heels compared to Jacksonville and Houston.
The running game is going to have to live up to the expectations set last season; Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines all work great as a trio. Defensively, there’s leaders at all three facets: DeForest Buckner on the line, Darius Leonard at linebacker and Xavier Rhodes in the secondary. The rest just need to follow by example and this could be another roadblock toward’s Arizona playoff hopes.
Week 17: @ Dallas Cowboys
A year ago, the Cardinals made a mockery of the Dak Prescott-less Cowboys in Dallas; on a Monday night, no less. It would prove to be ex-Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake‘s best game of the season, with 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. But this time, the trip to Jerryworld ought to be more difficult.
The loading up on defense is what sticks out the most from the Cowboys. Dallas drafted six straight defensive players, including first-round linebacker Micah Parsons. New safety Keanu Neal boosts a secondary that was 11th-best in the NFL last season in passing yards allowed (227.6 YPG). Only time will tell if Dallas’ atrocious run stop will improve with rookie defensive linemen Chauncey Golston and Osa Odighizuwa.
Week 18: Vs. Seattle Seahawks
The last in a string of must-win games for Arizona, it could potentially take the Sunday night slot if the situation is dire enough for the Cardinals. This wouldn’t be the first time both teams get the primetime treatment, especially after how memorable the last Sunday night game between both franchises was.
From D.K. Metcalf chasing down Budda Baker off an interception, to Isaiah Simmons‘ first-ever pick to set up the game-winning field goal, sparks should fly. That Week 7 game was also a banner night for both QBs, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray pass for 360+ yards and three touchdowns. Both will likely have to imitate those performances this year as well.
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for reading this four-part preview series on the 2021 Arizona Cardinals season. The Red Sea is ready to get back to football and ready for a better Cards season.
Featured photo courtesy of Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic
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