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How Possible — and Important — is it for the 2023 Arizona Cardinals to Exceed Expectations?

Cardinals’ 2022 Pro Bowl RB James Conner believes in the team’s chances this season

Arizona Cardinals Introduce Jonathan Gannon as Head Coach Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Background: TEMPE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: General manager Monti Ossenfort (L) talks with running back James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals during a press conference introducing Jonathan Gannon as the new head coach at Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on February 16, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona.Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images.

According to Forbes Betting, here are the full odds list for all 32 teams heading into the 2023-24 season:

  • Kansas City Chiefs: +600
  • San Francisco 49ers: +700
  • Philadelphia Eagles: +750
  • Cincinnati Bengals: +850
  • Buffalo Bills: +850
  • New York Jets: +1400
  • Dallas Cowboys: +1400
  • Miami Dolphins: +2500
  • Los Angeles Chargers: +2500
  • Detroit Lions: +2500
  • Denver Broncos: +2500
  • Baltimore Ravens: +2500
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: +2800
  • Cleveland Browns: +2800
  • New Orleans Saints: +3500
  • Seattle Seahawks: +4000
  • New York Giants: +4000
  • Las Vegas Raiders: +4000
  • Minnesota Vikings: +4500
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: +5000
  • Chicago Bears: +5000
  • Green Bay Packers: +5000
  • Los Angeles Rams: +6000
  • New England Patriots: +6000
  • Washington Commanders: +6000
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +6500
  • Atlanta Falcons: +7000
  • Carolina Panthers: +7500
  • Tennessee Titans: +8000
  • Indianapolis Colts: +10000
  • Houston Texans: +20000
  • Arizona Cardinals: +20000

NFC West Odds

  • San Franciso 49ers: -140
  • Seattle Seahawks: +250
  • LA Rams: +475
  • Arizona Cardinals: +2000

Strong bulletin board material for the Cardinals and their new coaching staff, that’s for sure.

However, Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 Pro Bowl RB James Conner wants NFL oddsmakers to know that he believes the 2023 team is going to be a lot more successful than many pundits and fans think.

Here are two excellent articles that highlight JC’s optimism:

Thus, yesterday, I wanted to to check the temperature among the fans base, particularly as applied to Connor’s optimism.

First, let’s give ROTB members a chance to vote:


With regard to James Conner’s optimism about the Cardinals’ chances this season, do you...?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Agree 100% with JC
    (59 votes)
  • 33%
    Have a similar hunch
    (113 votes)
  • 11%
    Disagree with JC
    (39 votes)
  • 36%
    Believe the pundits are correct
    (123 votes)
334 votes total Vote Now

Here is a similar poll I posted on Twitter yesterday:

The results are fascinating:

  • Look at the even distribution of choices 1, 3 and 4.
  • Does it surprise you that choice 2 has the highest percentage of votes?

The great thing about team sports, like football, basketball and baseball is that seemingly every year there is the emergence of inspired underdogs who —-by virtue of spirited unity and the sheer hunger to prevail—- find their way to exceed expectations.

2022 NFL Underdog Success Stories:

2022 NFL: Pre-season predictions per The Sporting News:

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers (13-4)

The 49ers have the most talented team of the Kyle Shanahan era and should Trey Lance not live up to the massive hype (he will), they have a strong fallback plan in place again with Jimmy Garoppolo. Offense, defense and special teams add up to a high floor with a Super Bowl-winning ceiling.

2. Los Angeles Rams (12-5)

The Rams also won’t experience any kind of Super Bowl hangover because they are too talented and too well coached. They will be right there in the championship mix with Cooper Kupp’s offense and Aaron Donald’s defense each having one more prime season for Sean McVay.

3. Arizona Cardinals (9-8)

The Cardinals overachieved a little last season with an aging roster. Kyler Murray now is under true pressure to live up to his contract and will need to do it early again without DeAndre Hopkins. J.J. Watt is still around for the defense, but there’s no feeling of real improvement there overall.

4. Seattle Seahawks (2-15)

The Seahawks aren’t inspiring anyone offensively with Geno Smith starting at QB, more line issues and a running game already battling key injuries. Their defense also wasn’t any good for Pete Carroll at the end of last season with the bust of Jamal Adams still looming. Seattle is ticketed to “worst team in NFC” status after never having losing seasons with a healthy Wilson.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (10-7)

The Colts wanted quarterback stability within the structure of Frank Reich’s run-heavy offense and Matt Ryan will provide it, helped by a ton of Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. The defense won’t have Matt Eberflus calling the plays, but it has plenty of talent and experience on every level to execute at a high enough level.

2. Tennessee Titans (9-8)

The Titans are bound to slide back and fall out of first place and the playoffs altogether. Their strength lies now as Mike Vrabel prefers it, with defense and the running game, but the latter has concern about how Derrick Henry comes back from a big foot injury. Ryan Tannehill has a new-look passing game, but he may struggle to rebound from the playoffs and open the door for Malik Willis.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)

The Jaguars have a wide range of outcomes under Doug Pederson, from taking a rebuilding step back as they clean up the mess left from the Urban Meyer area to seeing a Trevor Lawrence-fueled turnaround. Expect the former with the latter developing for 2023.

4. Houston Texans (1-16)

The Texans have a tough schedule even in a weak division. They played more inspired than expected with David Culley, but that enthusiasm will fade with Lovie Smith. Rookie running back Dameon Pierce will be the bright spot of the offense, but second-year QB Davis Mills is bound to take some real lumps in Year 2 and the defense doesn’t have too much beyond Jonathan Greenard.

How many of these 8 teams lived up to the expectations?

  • 1 —- SF

How many of these teams failed to perform up to the expectations?

  • 4 —- LAR, ARI, IND, TEN

How many of these teams exceeded expectations?

  • 2 —- SEA, JAC

Albert Breer’s (Sports Illustrated) Pre-Seaon 2022 Playoff Predictions:

What’s wrong with this picture?

Per Pro Football Network, here are their 2023-2024 Playoff Predictions:

Complete NFL Playoff Bracket

The most up-to-date NFL playoff bracket:


  1. 49ers
  2. Cowboys
  3. Lions
  4. Saints
  5. Eagles
  6. Seahawks
  7. Vikings


  1. Chiefs
  2. Dolphins
  3. Ravens
  4. Jaguars
  5. Bengals
  6. Bills
  7. Chargers

Could the Cardinals be one of this year’s surprise teams?

In my opinion, the Cardinals have more talent than the pundits acknowledge. Much of the Cardinals’ talent is young, hungry and refocused..

Because every job is open to competition,JG and the new coaching staff have been putting pressure on the players to created their own buzz. This kind of pressure to compete is already paying dividends.

The Cardinals are displaying stronger participation in the OTAs and significantly greater senses of morale and urgency.

As they say, pressure can burst pipes or create diamonds.

What gives me the greatest sense of hope:

“The best thing for the team...”

And because the GM, AGM, the HC and the coaches are aligned —- there is a good chance that the Cardinals players will no longer be receiving mixed messages or be operating under double standards. Plus, because of the coaching alignment the chances of the players have of getting their assignments and techniques straight are much more attainable. Because of that, this team is likely to be a great deal more focused, dialed in and disciplined.

The question is how quickly the players can learn and rep their assignments and techniques in order to play free and fast. It’s extremely refreshing to hear Colt McCoy vouch for why the reps in OTAs are “so valuable” and that “everyone is bought in.”

When NFL teams move on from one coaching staff to another, the players are apt to talk up and praise the new approach. However, what we have been hearing from the Cardinals’ players feels uniquely genuine, which is likely why over 50% of the Cardinals’ fans who voted in the recent poll are feeling surprisingly optimistic about the Cardinals chances to exceed expectations this season.

Nothing about this off-season feels like “same old, same old.”

I believe thatthis is the the speediest and most athletic roster the Cardinals have had in Arizona. If the players’ learning curves are as fast as their feet, the team’s confidence could begin to soar.

For such a young coaching staff, there can be no greater morale boost for them and the team than generating a fresh new sense of confidence and purpose in the players.

While it is tempting to want the Cardinals to lose in order have potentially two top five draft picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, the adept way in which Monti Ossenfort and Dave Sears worked this year’s draft should give Cardinals’ players and fans the confidence that wherever the Cardinals are picking in the draft, the GMs will be able to capitalize on their astute preparations.

After all, what’s more important?.


What’s more important for the 2023 Arizona Cardinals?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Exceeding expectations this season
    (130 votes)
  • 43%
    Tanking for 2024 draft picks
    (99 votes)
229 votes total Vote Now

How did you vote and what are the factors as to why?