The NFL Draft has come and gone and for the most part, many see what the Arizona Cardinals did in the 2017 NFL Draft as a positive. Those positive thoughts also tend to mean that many see the Arizona Cardinals rebounding in 2017 after their disaster of a season in 2016.
Even Football Outsiders, the original NFL analytics site has been positive on the Arizona Cardinals outlook, projecting them as a 10-6 team and an NFC Wild Card team only a month ago.
Well, outside of a good NFL Draft to most people, not much has changed in the last month for the Cardinals, yet the guys over at Football Outsiders have tempered their own expectations for the Cardinals and dropped their projected win total:
Seattle Seahawks: 11-5 (11.4 mean wins, SOS: 22)
Arizona Cardinals: 9-7 (8.6 mean wins, SOS: 20)
Los Angeles Rams: 8-8 (8.2 mean wins, SOS: 23)
San Francisco 49ers: 5-11 (5.2 mean wins, SOS: 5)
Seattle's run of four straight years on top of our DVOA ratings ended last season, but there's plenty of reason to believe the Seahawks defense can rebound once Earl Thomas gets back on the field. We've tempered our offensive projection for Arizona since our April forecast after comparing Carson Palmer's recent history to other quarterbacks who had one big season in their 30s. Nevertheless, Arizona should have a top defense and the offense should rebound a little bit and be at least average.
Our Rams forecast got a lot of surprised reaction when we published our projections in April. There are two big reasons for the positive prediction. First, it is almost impossible for the Rams' offense to be as bad in 2017 as it was in 2016. Last year's Rams had the fourth-worst offensive DVOA in the past 30 seasons. Improving that to just garden-variety bad, something akin to last year's Texans, would be worth a win or two. Second, Wade Phillips has a phenomenal record of improving defenses in his first year as head coach or defensive coordinator.
The Cardinals are still projected to finish second in the NFC West and still expected to be a NFC Wildcard team, but they dropped a game in the standings without anything happening?
I don’t always understand analytics, but this was an interesting thought to me.
The Cardinals would, in these projections, be taking on the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the playoffs, while the Seattle Seahawks would be the top seed in the NFC.
What do you think?