Cardinals picked 4th in NFC West by FiveThirtyEight

Sep 11, 2021, 11:35 AM
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Kansas City Chiefs during the fir...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of an NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Cardinals are projected to finish in fourth place in the NFC West in FiveThirtyEight’s season-opening predictions. There are some silver linings though, especially for quarterback Kyler Murray.

FiveThirtyEight predicts an 8-9 record for the Cardinals in 2021. That projection is only two games behind every team in the NFC West in the quarterback-adjusted forecast, which uses individual quarterback to adjust win probabilities.

Only the San Francisco 49ers’ record adjusts among NFC West teams in the site’s traditional forecast. Its record is adjusted down to 8-9, level with Arizona.

The site gives Arizona a 36% chance to win the NFC West. That mark is the lowest in the division. However, it’s the best mark out of the teams predicted to finish last in their respective divisions.

Despite the team not receiving the best reviews among FiveThirtyEight’s measurements, Murray’s individual ratings shine bright.

Murray’s season-opening Elo value, the value that the site uses to rank quarterbacks, is at 217 Elo points. That mark is the best among NFC West quarterbacks. Seattle’s Russell Wilson has the next-highest mark at 187 Elo points.

Murray is rated above defending Super Bowl champion Tom Brady by only four Elo points. Only Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers are rated above Murray among NFC quarterbacks.

Murray is ranked sixth overall among expected Week 1 starters.

Murray is ranked above several NFL veterans, including Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Arizona is the underdog for Sunday’s opener against Tannehill and the Titans in FiveThirtyEight’s models. The quarterback-adjusted model gives the Cardinals a 34% win probability. The traditional model bumps the Cardinals down by just two percentage points.

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