The Cardinals only increased their win total from three to five last season, but Football Outsiders saw some tangible progress beyond the record.
As quarterback Kyler Murray enters his second season, the analytics site is forecasting a sizable step forward in 2020. The Cardinals have been projected to finish with 8.1 wins in Football Outsiders’ regular season simulation, which is No. 15 in the NFL and within 0.6 wins of every other team in the NFC West.
The Cardinals are given a 42.7 percent chance to make it to the postseason and a 4.4 percent chance to reach the Super Bowl. Despite last year’s 5-10-1 record, Football Outsiders had the Cardinals at 7.1 estimated wins based on their DVOA formula, which was substantially better than the 2.5 estimated wins in 2018. Aaron Schatz, the creator of Football Outsiders, explained why his prediction model expects a continuance of that trajectory in 2020.
We have done research showing the most likely time for a quarterback to improve is Year 2, and this is a guy who everybody feels has a lot of talent, said Schatz, whose Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 is available on Amazon, with a portion of the proceeds going to United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. “And then when you add DeAndre Hopkins to the offense – when you combine those two things to an offense that was already above average last year. … those two positives are very positive.
And then the defense, you always see a little bit of regression to past performance, and we look at three years of past performance rather than just one. Last year is more important than the years before that, but when you look at the Arizona defense, we see it bouncing back from last year’s decline.