According to the odds makers in Las Vegas, the over/under for the Arizona Cardinals win total in 2014 regular season is at 7.5.
The Cardinals are one of three double-digit win teams in the NFL last season who 2014 win projections in are at least 2.5 wins lower than in 2013. The other two include the Carolina Panthers, who went 12-4 last season and over/under for 2014 is 8.5 wins, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who went 11-5 in 2013 and are predicted to win 8 games in 2014.
The basis behind this prediction is most likely based upon a few factors. One is the Cardinals having the 8th toughest schedule in the NFL next season, based on the winning percentages of their 2014 opponents during the 2013 season. Another is the fact that the Cardinals only managed a 2-4 record in the nightmarish NFC West in 2013, with that in mind the odds makers figure the Cardinals would have to go 6-4 in games outside of their division in 2014 to finish 8-8. That slate includes the Eagles, Redskins, Chargers, Chiefs and Lions at home, and the Cowboys, Giants, Broncos, Raiders and Buccaneers on the road. As you may have been able to deduce, the Cardinals were a highly impressive 8-2 outside of their division in 2013.
Although it may be somewhat unrealistic although definitely not inconceivable that the Cardinals finish 8-2 outside of their division once again, an extremely tough division doesn’t necessarily guarantee another 2-4 divisional record in 2014. The Cardinals were a few plays away from being 4-2 in the division last year and they had a real chance to win in San Francisco last year as well.
The NFL is the most unpredictable professional sports league from one season to the next. The large preponderance of injuries from season to season, coupled with the number of close games an NFL team has each season, and the unpredictable variability of turnover margin from season to season means that it isn’t that unlikely for a team to go from worst to first or vice versa from a given season. For example the Texans, Falcons, Vikings, and Redskins were 45-19 in 2012, but combined for a putrid 17-49-1 record in 2013 as a result of injuries, a change in turnover margin and pure bad luck.
So to get back to the original point, it’s not that farfetched or disrespectful for the odds makers to set the Cardinals to set the over/under for the team at 7.5 wins even though they were a 10 win team in 2013. Also it’s worth noting that although the odds makers set the lines based on their expectations of the team, a large determining factor is also what they perceive the public will think and be most apt to wager on.
Here is a list of all of the over/unders for every NFL team in 2014 (note: some of these lines may be different depending on the sports book)
49ers, Broncos, Seahawks: 11 wins
Packers, Patriots: 10 wins.
Saints: 9.5 wins.
Bengals, Colts, Steelers: 9 wins.
Bears, Eagles, Panthers, Ravens, Texans: 8.5 wins
Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Falcons, Lions: 8 wins
Cardinals, Dolphins: 7.5 wins
Giants, Redskins: 7 wins
Bills, Browns, Buccaneers, Jets, Rams, Titans, Vikings: 6.5 wins.
Raiders: 5 wins.
Jaguars: 4.5 wins
Personally even with what is perceived as a difficult schedule and really tough division, and the recent news of Daryl Washington’s suspension, I still firmly believe the Cardinals will have another winning season so I would take the over. But I want to know what you think: Will the Cardinals win at least 8 games in 2014?