Can Cardinals continue Super Bowl host trend?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first NFL team to win the Super Bowl on home field by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 season. The Los Angeles Rams then followed in their footsteps with their triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium to continue the trend of successful host franchises.

All eyes will now be on the Arizona Cardinals to make it three wins in a row when State Farm Stadium in Glendale hosts Super Bowl LVII for the title game in the 2022 campaign. The Cardinals have a long price in the odds for Super Bowl betting at +3500 to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but Kliff Kingsbury and his team do have the talent to pull off a surprise.

The Cardinals were on the right track in the 2021 season, starting with a 7-0 record, but unraveled down the stretch to finish 11-6 to miss out on the NFC West crown. Defeats to the Rams, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks loomed large, forcing Arizona to play on the road in the Wildcard Round. They faced off against the Rams and were blown out, ending a disappointing final month of the campaign. An injury to DeAndre Hopkins knocked the offense and quarterback Kyler Murray out of rhythm, resulting in their defeat to the Rams, who were dominant on defense throughout.

Arizona ensured that Murray would remain a Cardinal for the long term by signing the 24-year-old to a huge extension worth $230 million. It was a relief for the franchise amid speculation regarding the future of the quarterback, having witnessed the departure of Russell Wilson from the NFC West and the Seahawks in a not-too-dissimilar situation.

The pressure is now on Murray to live up to expectations and he will certainly be out for an improvement on his playoff performance, where he was below-par throwing for two interceptions and only 137 yards. The great quarterbacks are able to elevate the displays of the players around them even without star talent in the ranks. Murray has to learn that lesson, especially as he will be without the services of Hopkins for the opening six matches of the season due to suspension. Arizona will have to find a way to function on offense without the perennial All-Pro.

Marquise Brown was a high-profile trade in the off-season, costing a first-round pick from the Baltimore Ravens, while Rondale Moore has had a year in the Cardinals’ offense to acclimatize to the NFL. The veterans Zach Ertz and A.J. Green provide valuable experience, although not quite being the players that they were at their respective peaks.

The Cardinals were a solid defensive unit for many years, but the talent has slowly transitioned towards the offense following the departures of Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones, who were cornerstones of the team. Murray and the offense now have to take on that responsibility and maintain it throughout the 2022 campaign. Only then will they be able to topple the Rams in the NFC West and attempt to win their first NFC crown in 14 years to reach the Super Bowl. A trend has been set by the Buccaneers and Rams, and the pressure is on the Cardinals to continue the run of success.

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