There was really no reason for anyone to think the Arizona Cardinals could have been this good four games into the season, yet they are.
The Cards are the only undefeated team in the NFL at the moment, boasting a 4-0 record as they await a clash with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Arizona is now 16/1 to win the Super Bowl next year where and NFL futures lines could continue to shorten if they manage to go 5-0 this weekend.
Fans will have every right to be hopeful considering their team is coming off a shocking upset against the Los Angeles Rams, who beat a very solid Tampa Bay Buccaneers team the week prior.
The Cardinals are the current kings among their peers and it’s no surprise that Kyler Murray has ousted Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the frontrunner for the Most Valuable Player award.
Murray is now the betting favorite for the Associated Press’ regular-season MVP award at Caesars Sportsbook at +550, with Mahomes next up at +600. Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen follows at +800 while Buccaneers star Tom Brady and reigning MVP, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, are both +900.
The Chiefs QB had been leading the favourites column since sportsbooks started posting odds on who would be MVP but the Cardinals have been much better than Kansas, who hold a 2-2 record at the moment, with Murray firing them to an unblemished start after four games played.
Murray started out at 25/1 to win the MVP award but odds shortened to 10-1 after Week 1. He has made 76.1 percent of his passes so far, leading to 12 touchdowns. Mahomes has thrown 15 TD passes, with both men notching four interceptions.
The Rams’ Matthew Stafford has also seen odds shorten on his chances, having gone from +2000 to +1100 while they’ve dropped from +1200 to +1100 on Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.
The Cardinals aren’t known for their shrewd decision making and conventional thinking would have perhaps convinced them not to risk their first pick on Murray in 2019 and stick with Josh Rosen.
All of the organization’s decisions from the last three seasons probably should have prompted regret by now but the Cardinals are looking like a pretty strong bunch so far.
The feeling of being on top isn’t new to Murray either.
“I’m used to winning. It’s just what it is,” the 24-year-old said this week. “This is not a new feeling for me. It feels right, it feels normal. And to be back in a position where we’re going into each and every game confident that will come out victorious, it’s a great feeling for sure.”
Sure, the Cards were in a similar position last season after going 6-2 in their first eight games – they would go on to lose six of their last eight.
Expectations weren’t very high coming into the season but it really does appear that they are a serious contender this time around. The Cards lead the league in points and yards per game (35.0 and 440.5) and are second to the Bills in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. The latter is a metric that measures both situational success play by play while also considering the schedule.
It doesn’t appear that head coach Kliff Kingsbury will run out of ideas this time around and he seems as relaxed as ever now.
“Man, he’s always enjoying himself,” running back Chase Edmonds said of the coach. “He’s a laid-back guy. I love having coach Kingsbury as my coach because he allows his players to be themselves.
And whether you’re a quiet guy or an energetic guy, a dancing guy or a serious guy, he allows you to be who you are when you go into that building and handle your job.
“I think he’s starting to enjoy himself a little bit, but he won’t tell you that.”
Kingsbury just might be taking a page out of Ted Lasso’s book this season. Lasso, the titular character of Apple’s hit show, happens to be a former football coach hired to manage a soccer team in England despite knowing absolutely nothing about the game.
Despite his lack of knowledge and strange willingness to admit just how unfamiliar he is to the beautiful game, his overly positive attitude wins just about everyone over.
“Yeah, there’s some real parallels between Ted Lasso and myself – like the epic YouTube dance video,” Kingsbury told a press conference this week.
“Y’all were at my (introductory) news conference,” he said. “It was essentially the same press conference as Ted Lasso had whenever it’s like, ‘Is this some kind of a joke?’ And then he’s wildly positive all the time, so we’ll take it.
“But yeah, I like the show.”