Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer has never won a playoff game in his 13 seasons in the NFL.
And despite that knowledge, the high rollers in Las Vegas are betting big on the 36-year-old quarterback and his 12-4 Arizona Cardinals to not only make it to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, but to leave there with the Vince Lombardi Trophy in hand.
According to the Westgate SuperBook, Palmer and his Cardinals are 3-1 favorites to win this year’s Super Bowl, followed by the reigning Super Bowl champ, New England Patriots, and Carolina Panthers at 4-1, respectively.
The Denver Broncos, the AFC’s top seed, are favored at 5-1, followed by the Seattle Seahawks (6-1), the Kansas City Chiefs (10-1), Pittsburgh Steelers (12-1), and finally the Green Bay Packers (18-1).
The Cardinals are flying high this season, with injury-prone veteran quarterback Carson Palmer leading the NFL’s top-ranked offense in terms of yards along with averaging 30.6 points per game, second only to the NFC’s top team in the Carolina Panthers.
The Arizona Cardinals are listed as Super Bowl favorites...Sounds like the perfect time for Carson Palmer to shred a knee— Tom Tebow (@IamEvilTebow) January 11, 2016
Arizona’s defense also sits in the top five in terms of total defense, and their excellence on both sides of the ball this season gives reason to believe why bettors in Sin City are flocking with the Cardinals’ this postseason.
Still, with NFC teams like the Carolina Panthers and streaking Seattle Seahawks in the mix, the Cardinals are far from a safe bet to come out on top this postseason.
According to Football Outsiders, eight of the league’s top 10 teams are still in playoff contention, with Cincinnati (eliminated this past Sunday) and the Jets (did not qualify) being the two teams in the top 10 no longer playing.
The Seahawks are ranked as the best team entering this week’s divisional round according to the Outsiders rankings (which puts an emphasis on teams’ play towards the end of the season), with The Cardinals ranking 3rd, followed by the Panthers, Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Jets (eliminated), and Green Bay.
When comparing all eight teams and the matchups this weekend, it’s possible to make a legitimate argument for each team going into their respective game this weekend.
Cardinals Path to a Super Bowl Victory
For the first time in what seems like his entire career, Carson Palmer has been able to maintain his health for the duration of a season and with that, has emerged as a top five quarterback who is in the running for this year’s offensive MVP. He –along with his health — is the catalyst that will determine how deep of a playoff run these Cardinals will make.
Arizona begins their playoff run against the Green Bay Packers (who hold the lowest odds to win it all) this Saturday at home.
They last played two weeks ago, with Arizona handing former MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers their worst loss of the season, 38-8 in Arizona.
Though the Packers were able to get their run game going last week against a mediocre Washington Redskins team, it’s unlikely that they repeat that performance against one of the league’s better defenses in Arizona.
Should the Cardinals take care of business against Green Bay as predicted, they will be matched up against the Carolina Panthers/ Seattle Seahawks.
A matchup that will prove to be the most difficult in their attempt to satisfy Vegas odds.
The Seahawks destroyed the Cardinals in week 17, 36-6, as they continue to ride Russell Wilson’s hot streak, and are 3-0 playing at Arizona since Bruce Arians became the Cardinals’ coach. Two facts that are concerning if you’re a Cardinal fan.
A matchup against a young Carolina Panthers squad in Carolina might prove more favorable for a seasoned Cardinals group, but underestimating a team that holds the league’s best record going into the postseason could result in an earlier offseason for the Cardinals than they would hope for.
Should Arizona get through a tough crop of NFC teams to advance to the championship game, their chances to win on February 7th in Santa Clara become more favorable, as most of the AFC’s likeliest candidates are riddled with nagging injuries: Tom Brady’s receiving core needs to come back in full stride if the Patriots expect a chance against a pesky Chiefs defense, and Denver needs Peyton to turn back the clock if they plan on adding to their Super Bowl collection.
The NFC is currently a 2.5-point favorite in the Super Bowl at the SuperBook.
(AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)