As there are two months until NFL training camp kicks off, LVH in Las Vegas has released their projected win totals for the 2014 NFL season. The Arizona Cardinals are projected at 7.5 for the upcoming season, up from the 5.5 they projected for the 2013 season.
When these numbers were released last season, I was adamant about betting the over for a number of different reasons. In 2012, the Cardinals finished with a 5-11 record and did so without a competent signal caller behind center and having collectively given up on their head coach toward the end of the season.
Arizona had entered the 2013 season with a better offensive-minded coach, a competent veteran at quarterback and the same defense that was showing flashes of becoming elite in 2012. In 2013, I had the Cardinals at eight wins, easily surpassing the 5.5 mark set in Las Vegas. The 2013 Cardinals finished with 10.
Heading into the 2014 season, I will once again take the over on the win total. While 7.5 leaves less room for error, there are many reasons to take the over on this season’s projected win total.
The first is the glaringly obvious fact that the Arizona returns the same NFL defense that was among last season’s elite. While the argument can be made that losing Karlos Dansby hurt, the Cardinals do return Sam Acho, will bring former second-round pick Kevin Minter into the fold, and have added Deone Bucannon in the draft. Bucannon figures to help the Cardinals more effectively cover tight ends, a glaring weakness in an otherwise elite defense.
The second reason for taking the over is that the Cardinals went 10-6 last season despite major struggles from their offense in the first half of last season. Through the first eight games, Carson Palmer had a 10:14 TD:INT ratio. The final eight games, however, saw Palmer become much more comfortable with Bruce Arians‘ offense and improve that ratio substantially to 14:8, with four of those interceptions coming in the Cardinals’ victory at Seattle.
There’s no reason to think with the offensive line receiving a major upgrade that Palmer couldn’t at least maintain that second-half 2013 ratio, if not improve upon it.
So for the second season in a row, I am confident in taking the over on the win total Vegas projected for the 2014 Cardinals. This team returns an elite defense that’s improved through the draft, and an upgraded offensive line that will protect a quarterback who showed steady improvement the more he grew into a new offense.