Arizona Cardinals 2023 season preview and predictions
This appeared in the original VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on June 29, 2023.
Zachary Cohen: The 2022 season was already looking like a rough one for the Cardinals, and it went from bad to worse when Kyler Murray tore his ACL. Arizona decided to completely clean house, moving on from general manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals hired Monti Ossenfort, the former Director of Player Personnel for the Tennessee Titans, to replace Keim, while also bringing in former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as head coach. The franchise now looks to be going through a serious rebuilding project, which means the 2023 season could get ugly.
The Cardinals averaged only 20.0 points per game in 2022, and only two teams in football were worse when it came to DVOA on that side of the ball. Fortunately for Arizona, Kingsbury no longer calls the shots for this offense. He was supposed to bring a revolutionary offensive mind to the desert, but the Cardinals constantly had Murray throwing nothing but screens and short passes.
The problem for Arizona is that Murray is still recovering from a torn ACL. And the team is severely lacking in talent around him. The Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins during the offseason, leaving an unproven receiver group of Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch catching passes from Colt McCoy until Murray comes back. This could be the worst passing attack in football.
The running game isn’t going to be good either. James Conner is a solid short-yardage back, but he lacks home-run hitting ability. Without that, there’s really nothing to keep defenses honest. This team is really going to struggle to score points in 2023, and a marriage with USC quarterback Caleb Williams looks more and more possible the more you look at this depth chart.
Only the Chicago Bears gave up more points per game than the Cardinals last season. This team also lost JJ Watt, Byron Murphy and Zach Allen in the offseason, and Budda Baker wants out of Arizona. This could be one of the worst defensive teams in the league, unless Gannon can work some magic.
Gannon did oversee some very good defenses in his time as the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, those units were loaded with talent. With the Cardinals, Gannon will need to make lemonade with very little access to lemons.
When the NFL schedule was released, DraftKings Sportsbook had the Cardinals as underdogs in all 17 of their games. So, it’s a little surprising that their win total is even as high as 4.5 heading into the season. This regular season win total has Under written all over it. Arizona might pull a few wins out of nowhere, but it’s hard to see how this will be a five-win football team. And you can get +100 odds to take under 4.5.
This appeared in the Updated VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on August 31, 2023.
Michael Lombardi: My mother always told me, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it. She clearly didn’t understand scouting or breaking down teams and her son’s propensity for speaking what he feels. It’s hard to find much to like after watching the Cardinals this summer. Yes, they play hard with fight and intensity, which works on the game's first series. As the game continues, their lack of skill shows. They have struggled to stop the run, struggled to run the ball, and with limited quarterbacking play, the Cards are going to need to rely on their opponents to make mistakes. I’m not sure the Cards are a good 45-minute team — they might be a first-half-only team, and as the game continues, their scheme and strategy will begin to unravel. Count on them playing hard, but don’t count on them playing well.
Player to Watch: QB Clayton Tune
It’s hard to find a lot of positives for a Cardinals team that is projected to be the worst in football, but Tune put some nice things on film throughout training camp and the preseason. Tune possessed a bit more upside than veteran journeyman Colt McCoy, as he has a bit of a bigger arm and has an underrated set of wheels. That definitely factored into Arizona’s decision to release McCoy on August 28th. Tune was 34 for 59 with 353 yards, a touchdown and a pick in the preseason, and he was a bad Greg Dortch drop away from having two touchdown passes. Those numbers were pretty promising considering the Cardinals didn’t have a good offensive line in front of him, and the running game did him no favors in setting up manageable third down situations. Even if Josh Dobbs ends up with this starting job, Tune should unseat him eventually. - Zachary Cohen
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