Arizona Cardinals NFL Prediction: 2021 Season Betting Odds and Preview

Jordan Ramsay | Updated Aug 31, 2021

Year three for Kyler Murray could see the talented quarterback at a crossroads. Can he take the next step and cement himself as one of the NFL's best, or will a tough NFC West division see him stumble?

The Arizona Cardinals look like the question mark team of the NFC West for the 2021 season.  They had a strong start last year, but ultimately faltered and finished 8-8 as quarterback Kyler Murray dealt with a shoulder injury throughout the back half of the year.  Now entering his third season, Murray is expected to take another significant step forward in his development, aided by a skilled supporting cast and improved offensive line.  Can the Arizona Cardinals surprise the NFL in 2021?

Veteran Additions

QB Colt McCoy, RB James Conner, WR A.J. Green, G Brian Winters, C Rodney Hudson, DT J.J. Watt, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Daryl Worley, S Shawn Williams, K Matt Prater.

Notable Draft Picks

LB Zaven Collins, WR/RB Rondale Moore, S/CB Marco Wilson.

Veteran Losses

RB Kenyan Drake, WR Larry Fitzgerald, TE Dan Arnold, OT Marcus Gilbert, G J.R. Sweezy, C Mason Cole, LB Haasan Reddick, LB De’Vondre Campbell, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Johnathan Joseph, K Zane Gonzalez.

Arizona Cardinals Acquisitions and Moves

The Cardinals made a concentrated effort to give Murray better protection and shipped a third-round draft pick to the Raiders for Rodney Hudson.  As one of the best centres in the NFL, Hudson is going provide Murray with more time to throw, which only escalates the threat wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins poses downfield.  Combine that with the playmaking abilities of Christian Kirk and free agent signing A.J. Green, and this receiving corps will be dangerous regardless of whether Larry Fitzgerald returns, retires, or runs routes somewhere else.

Arizona’s running game will look a little different after adding James Conner in free agency and not resigning Kenyan Drake.  Conner should get the majority of the short-yardage duties and split touches with Chase Edmonds.  It’s tough to say exactly where second-round rookie Rondale Moore will play in the lineup because he can play anywhere, but he’ll be a positive factor wherever he ends up.

Defensively, the Cardinals lost cornerback Patrick Peterson and linebacker Haason Reddick in free agency.  Arizona made a big splash of their own in free agency, however, and added veteran defensive end J.J. Watt on a two-year deal after he was cut by Houston.  Watt has dealt with injury issues over the last few seasons, but he’s still a Pro Bowl calibre player and he should form a formidable duo with Chandler Jones.

Other additions include 2021 16th overall draft pick Zaven Collins, as well as Malcolm Butler.  Collins is a versatile linebacker who should figure in heavily on the pass-rush.  Butler provides backfield depth and he will be an improvement at cornerback over Peterson.  Arizona will also get Byron Murphy and Robert Alford back, after both players missed all of 2020 with injuries.

Arizona Cardinals 2021 NFL Schedule

Outside of their divisional games, the Cardinals have a fairly favourable schedule.  They were swept by the Rams in 2020 and a healthy 49ers team could pose a serious threat, but if Arizona can win outside of the NFC West, they should at least get a wildcard spot.

The Cards will get the rebuilding Lions and Jaguars on the road and they’ll also be matched up against unthreatening teams like the Bears and Texans.  A later bye in Week 12 should help them rest and gear up for a final playoff push when they alternate home and away games for the final six games of the season.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 12 @ Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 4:05 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 26 @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3 @ Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17 @ Cleveland Browns, 4:05 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24 vs. Houston Texans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 28 vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7 @ San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14 vs. Carolina Panthers, 4:05 p.m.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21 @ Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

Week 12: BYE

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5 @ Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Monday, Dec. 13 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19 @ Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 25 vs. Indianapolis Colts, 8:15 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2 @ Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m.

Week 18: Sunday, Jan. 9 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

Arizona Cardinals NFL Betting Odds

Arizona is +160 to make the playoffs, the longest odds in the NFC West.  With their 2021 win total set at 8.5, the Over is -122 and the Under is -114.  They might have a tough time within their own division, but they have enough favourable matchups outside the NFC West that I would feel comfortable taking the Over.  At +495 to win the NFC West, they’re deservedly a longshot.  The Cards are +1807 to win the NFC and +3946 to win the Super Bowl.

Murray’s health is going to be the single biggest factor for this team.  Despite dealing with a shoulder injury which seemed more significant than Arizona would admit, from Week 11 onward, Murray showed improvement from his rookie season.  He finished with 3,971 yards, 26 TD and 12 INTs, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt and finishing with a 94.3 passer rating.  Murray was also one of the most successful rushing quarterbacks, running for 819 yards and 11 TDs.  At +1600, Murray is a top-10 MVP favourite on the NFL futures odds.

Arizona Cardinals 2021 Season Prediction

If Arizona can survive the NFC West, they could surprise teams in the playoffs.  I see this team as a better version of the 2011 New York Giants.  They’re +1400 to win the NFC and +3200 to win the Super Bowl.  If you’re looking for a more reliable longshot, take this Cardinals team.  Murray will take another step forward and this team will finish 10-7.