Former Houston Texans defensive superstar JJ Watt has found a new team—the Arizona Cardinals. His addition has fans wondering what kind of impact he can make and if he will affect Arizona’s odds of winning the Super Bowl, conference, or division.
Yes, he is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and a five-time first-team All-Pro selection. But he will be 32 when the 2021 season starts. His last DPOY win was in 2015. The last time he was an All-Pro was back in 2018. Watt has played in all 16 regular-season games just twice in the last five years. He has had double-digit sacks only once (2018).
If fans are not wondering what Watt has left in the tank heading into his 11th season and what he can do for his new team— well, they should be.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 1, 2021
What Can JJ Watt Still Bring To The Table For The Cardinals?
In today’s NFL, the passing game is king on the offensive side of the ball. Consequently, that makes the pass rush just as important on the defensive side of the ball. Since entering the league, JJ Watt has been one of the best pass rushers in the league.
But what Cardinals fans want to know is if he still is.
Arizona ranked fourth in the NFL in sacks last season with 48 and third in pressure rate at 30.3 percent. Only the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
However, with Markus Golden and Hassan Reddick (their best pass rushers last season) due to become free agents, there is no telling what the pass rush will look like next season. Retaining Reddick would benefit the team the most. According to the rumor mill, he wants to have a prominent role with whoever he plays with.
With Watt on the roster now, he may not get that in Arizona. But what fans must be wondering is if Watt still has enough in the tank to pick up the slack if the Cardinals lose Reddick and/or Golden. After recording just five sacks last season, it may seem like the answer should be no. But a pass rusher’s value is tied to more than sacks.
While Watt may not be a DPOY candidate anymore, he is still one of the most effective edge rushers in the NFL:
He earned that grade last season while getting double-teamed at a higher rate than any other edge rusher in the league (30 percent). With Chandler Jones lined up with him, chances are good Watt will not be double-teamed nearly as much in ’21.
That means he will make the Cardinals defense better, which means the Cardinals will be better– and their odds should be better. But will he make enough of a difference to impact how oddsmakers and bettors see the Cardinals?
Odds On The Arizona Cardinals In 2021
|Odds On Arizona Cardinals In 2021|
By looking at the Cardinals odds to win the Super Bowl, NFC, and NFC West, it does not look like JJ Watt has done much for the Cardinals from a gambling perspective. Arizona was a middle-of-the-pack team to win the Super Bowl and NFC before adding Watt, and they still are.
As for the NFC West, they had the worst odds in the division– and still do.
Watt did move the needle, just not very much. At DraftKings, the Cardinals Super Bowl odds went from +5000 down to +3300. While that may look significant, that means they went from a 1.96 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl to 2.94.
The difference was negligible for their conference (4.76 to 6.25 percent) and division (12.5 to 16.67 percent) odds, as well.
The Cardinals were a long shot at winning the Super Bowl, NFC, and the NFC West before adding JJ Watt to the defense, and they still are. Improving their defense does help their odds, but their success will hinge on Kyler Murray and the offense more than the defense. So—should you bet on the Cardinals?
It all depends on how much faith you have in Kyler Murray. If you have doubts as to whether he will continue to improve, then no. But if you think he can take his game to the next level in his third season, then there is value in betting on the Cardinals.
Just don’t risk much.