Posted on July 9, 2018, by Travis Pulver
When we see the odds a team has to win the Super Bowl or just to make the playoffs, we tend to make assumptions based on them. Now, in most cases, those assumptions are correct. The New England Patriots are one of the best teams in the game. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Minnesota, the Rams—all good teams.
But the Arizona Cardinals, who have the longest odds to make the playoffs this season, are not the worst team in football.
According to OddsShark, the Patriots have the best odds of making the playoffs at -1500. They haven’t missed since 2009; when they had a healthy Tom Brady behind center, not since 2003. They are as close to a sure thing as it gets—hence needing to bet $1500 to win $100.
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On the flip side, the odds on the Cardinals making it are +800. Every other team in the NFL falls somewhere in between. Yes, even the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins have better odds than the Cardinals—but it isn’t Arizona’s fault.
The Cardinals have a lot of promising talent on the roster. They still have Larry Fitzgerald tearing up secondaries and have a promising rookie in Christian Kirk lining up with him this season. Running back David Johnson is expected to be back (and healthy). Sam Bradford is capable of playing well, when healthy.
But if he drops the ball, rumor has it that rookie Josh Rosen is coming along very well. Their defense is decent as well, so why all the disrespect? They may not be playoff material or even semi-serious contenders. Surely they’re better than the Browns or Dolphins; their Super Bowl odds certainly are.
It may sound crazy, but it really isn’t their fault. It’s because they happen to be in a very good division, the NFC West. The division has been dominated by the Seattle Seahawks in recent years while the other three teams were lucky if the cracked .500.
But this season, the Rams have loaded up with the intention of making a run at the Super Bowl. Much is expected of the San Francisco 49ers in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first full season as a starting quarterback. While Seattle has lost quite a few players from its Legion of Boom defense, they still have Russell Wilson on offense. They are going to be competitive.
Just winning the division is not going to be easy. But the winner will likely be the 49ers or the Rams which means the other will get one of the two wild-card spots.
Let’s assume the Eagles win the NFC East again, the Vikings the NFC North, and the Saints the NFC South. That will leave good teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers to fight over the other wild card slot. Are the Cardinals going to be better than all those teams?
They probably will not be better than one of those teams.
So, it’s not entirely their fault the odds are against them making the playoffs. The Cardinals are not a bad team; there are just too many teams in their division and in the NFC that are better.