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On NFC West win totals: Arizona best bet?

6/3/2013

With an assist from @QuantCoach, I ran across this Gaming Today item noting that bookmakers are taking more Super Bowl money on the Seattle Seahawks than on any other NFL team.

"Not that long ago, Seattle was available at 18-1, before being bet all the way down to 8-1, the clear fourth favorite even though, based on win totals, they are not projected to win their division," the piece declares.

2013 Arizona Cardinals

That sent me into Dave Tuley's archive to see if I'd missed any related items on ESPN. Sure enough, Dave ran through projections for win totalsInsider on a division-by-division basis, offering the following general advice for the NFC West: under 11.5 wins for the San Francisco 49ers, over 10.5 wins for the Seattle Seahawks and over 7.5 wins for the St. Louis Rams. He's taking a pass on the Arizona Cardinals at this point.

"An argument could be made that the Seahawks were the best team at the end of last season and could have made the Super Bowl if not having to head on the road," Tuley wrote in his Seahawks breakdown. "They were 8-0 at home, but it's hard to assume they repeat that. Even so, if they go 7-1 they would just need to go 4-4 on the road (and look at Cantor's lines, the only game they're a road dog is Week 14 at San Fran) to go over 10.5."

Tuley, ESPN notes, has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website, ViewFromVegas.com. I've got virtually no experience on such matters, but in looking at the projected win totals, I'd feel most comfortable taking the "over" on the Arizona Cardinals' total, which was set at 5.5 victories.

Fears regarding the team's pass protection stem largely from the 58 sacks Arizona took last season. The Cardinals allowed 39 of those sacks in their first eight games. They ranked 13th and beat the league average in sacks allowed per drop-back for teams in their final eight games of the season, however. The team has subsequently added guard Jonathan Cooper in the first round. Also, starting tackle Levi Brown and starting center Lyle Sendlein are expected back from injuries. Finally, new quarterback Carson Palmer ranks seventh in fewest sacks taken per drop-back since 2008.