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Models project Arizona Cardinals’ win total to jump in 2020

Linebacker Chandler Jones #55 and strong safety Budda Baker #32 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate a sack fumble in the first half of the NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at State Farm Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

From the first 24 hours of the official start to the 2020 NFL season, it was clear the Arizona Cardinals had improved their roster significantly.

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins brought a win share greater than 1.0, according to NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund. So a defense-focused haul of three starters in free agency and a six-player NFL Draft class only improved matters from there.

In early May, after the draft, Frelund ran 100,000 simulations for every NFL game this year and projected Arizona at 8.3 wins in 2020. Her model in the way-too-early projections had the Cardinals finishing second in the NFC West, the toughest division in the NFL.

That was behind the San Francisco 49ers at 10.1 projected wins and just ahead of the Seattle Seahawks’ 8.2 projected wins.

Pro Football Focus’ latest analytical model isn’t as bullish on the Cardinals. Still, it predicts a sizeable step forward for the team in the second year under head coach Kliff Kingsbury and led by quarterback Kyler Murray.

In a model run 10,000 times, Arizona landed at 7.3 projected wins, finishing last in a competitive division. The 49ers (9.8), Seahawks (8.8) and Rams (8.2) are expected to finish ahead of the Cardinals..

To this point in the slowing offseason, the Cardinals’ most significant loss would be at center. A.Q. Shipley remains a free agent, but after that, the roster across both sides of the ball appears to be upgraded.

On paper, it’s enough to expect a step forward from a 5-10-1 season.


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