The importance of Kyler Murray to the Arizona Cardinals was already pretty clear, but it became all the more so after their recent mauling at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, the second game the influential quarterback has had to sit out through injury this season.
Murray remains sidelined with an ankle sprain, and his back-up, Colt McCoy, didn’t impress before he too suffered a pectoral strain. This puts more pressure on the Cardinals to rush Murray back as early as possible. Doing so makes sense as Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t want to see his side’s early-season form flatten out.
The Cardinals started the season like a runaway train, winning their first seven games on the bounce, and in doing so boosted their football betting odds. Even after their recent losses to the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers, they remain well placed at (+1100) and whether they push their way into the postseason for the first time since 2015 is heavily dependent on whether Murray is available.
24-year-old Murray has posted some impressive stats thus far this season; he leads the NFL in yards per attempt among those who’ve thrown more than 200 yards and has 17 passing TDs to his name, and is on target to post his personal best numbers. This is his third season in the NFL, and having been awarded the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019, he’s well placed to pick up the NFL MVP if he can stay clear of further injury layoffs.
Missing the last two weeks has seen Murray’s odds of winning the award; he’s dropped to (+1600), and among those ahead of him in the betting are veterans Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who have both had great seasons thus far. Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen is now a clear favorite at (+375), and the likes of Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott are also decent outside bets while pre-season favorite Patrick Mahomes has fallen all the way down to (+5000).
Kingsbury is well aware of the importance of Murray to the Cardinal’s progress but appears keen not to rush him back from injury;
“He wants to be back out there, but collectively, we’re all trying to come to the best place with it, whether it’s this Sunday or the bye,” Kingsbury added. “We’re ultimately going to do what’s best for Kyler and the Cardinals and go from there. It’s going to be close. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to go and play his game or not, but I’m hopeful.”
The Cardinals are up against the Seattle Seahawks next, and in theory, that should be a game they should rack up their ninth win of the season. Following that, they have a bye week, and therefore it may be sensible to give Murray more time to recover so as to avoid a prolonged period without their talisman.