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NFL betting preview: No. 31, Arizona Cardinals

Updated August 15, 2019 - 11:56 am

This is the second in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 5 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

Kliff Kingsbury helped develop NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech, and he also tutored Baker Mayfield during the Browns quarterback’s lone season on the Red Raiders.

But their talent didn’t always translate into wins, and Kingsbury was fired by Texas Tech last year after compiling a 35-40 record in six seasons.

That mark didn’t matter to the Arizona Cardinals, who hired Kingsbury as coach for his offensive wizardry and quarterback whispering.

The rookie NFL coach will now team up with rookie QB Kyler Murray — the top overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft — to try to kickstart a Cardinals franchise coming off a downright awful season.

Arizona had the NFL’s worst record last year (3-13) and was dead last in the league in scoring (14.1 points per game) and yards (241.6 ypg). The Cardinals also finished 26th in scoring defense, allowing 26.6 ppg.

Arizona is tied with the Miami Dolphins for the lowest 2019 season win total at the Westgate sportsbook, at 5, and is at 5½ at Caesars Entertainment.

“They’ll be better than they were last year, just because they have to be,” Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said. “But it’ll be a stretch to get them to six wins. They’re a team stuck in a real good division.

“The 49ers are going to be better, as long as (QB Jimmy) Garoppolo doesn’t get hurt, and there’s no reason to think the Seahawks and Rams won’t be playoff-caliber teams.”

Based on opponents’ 2019 season win totals, the Cardinals are tied for the seventh-toughest schedule, and eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson is suspended for the first six games for PEDs.

Arizona has weapons on offense in running back David Johnson and ageless wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald — who turns 36 on Aug. 31. But the 5-foot-10-inch Murray — the first NFL QB under 6-feet tall to be drafted in the first round, let alone with the No. 1 pick — will probably be scrambling quite a bit behind a weak offensive line.

“Murray has all the tools, but it’s a different league and he’s a smaller-type quarterback,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “He’ll be asked to not just be a runner but to be a passer as well. A lot of his numbers in college can be attributed to the conference he played in (the Big 12), which didn’t play any defense. He’s going to see a lot more complex defenses in the NFL.

“This team had a lot of holes to fill. They can use David Johnson better than they did last year and Fitzgerald is Fitzgerald. But I worry about that offensive line a little bit, and they definitely have some holes on the defensive side of the ball with Peterson out (six) games. They’ll score a lot of points but also give up a lot of points.”

Caesars Entertainment sportsbook director Jeff Davis said a respected bettor placed a minus-1,100 wager on Arizona to not make the playoffs. We also don’t see them winning six games.

Picks

Under 5 (+120)

Make playoffs? No (-1,600)

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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