National sports media: High hopes for Murray, less for Cardinals record
Different sports media outlets had unique ways of projecting what will happen in the 2019 NFL season.
ESPN simulated the season using its Football Power Index (FPI), which takes into account strength of schedule, returning starters and betting market expectations among other factors. NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund came up with a ceiling and a floor for each team, Sports Illustrated and The Ringer held a panel with its NFL experts and CBS Sports relied on one analyst, Will Brinson.
The sites primarily picked different Super Bowl winners and MVPs, but most agreed on their stance for the Arizona Cardinals and a certain rookie quarterback who plays for them.
Frelund projected that the Cardinals would fall somewhere in between 6.9 and 3.9 wins. Every other site listed, plus FiveThirtyEight and The Action Network, has Arizona finishing in that range as well, with the majority predicting 5-11.
Despite the low win expectations, there are a few positives for Arizona in these analyses.
For starters, most are selecting quarterback Kyler Murray to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly talked about how he could put up massive numbers in year one.
Murray is incredibly accurate as a thrower and über-dynamic as a runner. He’s going to be playing in an up-tempo, high-flying offense, and I can see him racking up big stat lines through the air and on the ground. The Cardinals might not be a good team in 2019, but Murray is going to be appointment viewing.
Frelund noted Murray’s potential and believes that running back David Johnson will help him with a high-level season. Her concern has to do with his protection.
Even with Murray’s attributes and potential — and coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense being congruent with the No. 1 overall pick’s skills — the Cardinals’ O-line projects to be problematic, ranking second-worst in my model.
Another positive note, though, is that ESPN’s simulation had Murray and the Cardinals offense shining early on.
The simulation was run 20,000 times and the final projection had Arizona defeating the Detroit Lions 36-10 to start the season. That number seems a bit far-fetched, especially since the Lions are favored in most Vegas sportsbooks. However, Detroit could be a favorable matchup against Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid since its pass defense has been insufficient for several seasons.
The FPI also had the Cardinals starting 3-3, a promising record for a rookie quarterback and coach to start with.
There may not be a lot of hope in the predictions for Arizona’s season record, but the national sports media largely sees the Cardinals as an intriguing team with Kingsbury and Murray’s arrival.
ESPN (FPI): 4-12
NFL.com’s Frelund: 4.6 wins (6.9 ceiling)
Action Network: 5-11
CBS Sports: 5-11