The previous four NFL postseasons have been played without the Arizona Cardinals, the young team struggling to a fourth-place NFC West finish for the last two seasons in a row under two different head coaches.
Now all franchise hopes for 2020 success are being placed on second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the strong throwing arm of his second-year quarterback Kyler Murray, the young former college phenom who will most likely benefit from some of the offseason improvements the team has made.
Whether Murray has a breakout 2020 season or suffers a sophomore slump like so many second-year QB’s do will depend on several key factors that we delve into as we take a look at the predictions and odds of his 2020 passing yards and TDs.
Odds taken 5 June 2020, from DraftKings
Keep in mind the odds in these wagers will shift plenty of times before the actual games are played, so be sure to check back here often to get all the latest numbers.
Tough to be productive when your offensive line allows a lead-leading number of sacks (see below). For Murray to beat the over of this bet, he would have to better his rookie total by over 225 passing yards, something entirely possible with DeAndre Hopkins now flying around the field.
Murray only threw for 20 touchdowns last season, but the kid does know how to score, the proof being his 42 touchdown passes with just 7 picks his last season at Oklahoma.
The NFL is a whole other level, though, so for Murray to beat this over he will have to figure out how to stay vertical long enough to get his passes thrown accurately.
Looks like the same starting offensive line will be returning in Arizona – D.J Humphries, Justin Pugh, Mason Cole, JR Sweezy, and Marcus Gilbert – so they have to figure out how to do a way better job of protecting Murray if he expects to beat this over.
Last season, the O-line allowed Murray to be sacked 48 times, which was tied for most in the league with the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks, so hopefully, the newly formed line will have worked out whatever kinks were keeping them from being effective.
Those sacks translated into 309 total lost yards as well as caused Murray to have to run for his life more often than not, which makes squaring up for an accurate throw just about impossible in the NFL.
Sure, the Cardinals lost running back David Johnson, but they got wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with the Houston Texans and now the Cards and Murray are set up with two veteran targets to game plan around.
The other, of course, being Larry Fitzgerald, the veteran in his 17th season now who hasn’t broken 1,000 total receiving yards since the 2017 season and who will certainly benefit from having a deep threat like Hopkins running routes opposite him.
Hopkins is arguably one of the top at his position in the league, last season catching 104 balls for 1,165 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Texans, his longest a 43-yarder, the last two season with an average catch percentage of around 70%.
Using their first-round pick (8th overall) to select a pro-bowl caliber player like rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons, considered by many experts to be the best at his position in this draft class, shows how serious the front office is about improving on that side of the ball.
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals’ defense was ranked worst in the league, allowing their opponents to gain over 400 total yards and score almost 28 points per game, and a poor defense like that affects the quarterback in a couple of critical ways.
The first is obvious – the more the other team scores, the more Murray and his offense have to find the end zone, but the other way a poor defense affects him is by giving him fewer opportunities to be on the field after a turnover instead of after a score.
Pick: Take the under here – might take at least another season for Murray and this newly formed group to figure out how to run their Arizona engine on all cylinders.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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