2016 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have enjoyed a lot of success in the NFL over the last couple of seasons, but one thing has managed to constantly escape them….a Super Bowl trophy. With a top 10 offense, a top 10 defense, and a fantastic head coach, is this the year the Cardinals finally achieve that dream?

Can Carson Palmer stay healthy long enough to get the Cardinals back to the NFC title game?

Can the defense continue to play at the level they’ve been playing at?

Is Bruce Arians one of the guys who is just doomed to never win a Super Bowl even though he’s a great coach?

Let’s find out!

 

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Arizona Cardinals

The Stats:

Record Last Ten Seasons: 13-3 (2015), 11-5 (2014), 10-6 (2013), 5-11 (2012), 8-8 (2011), 5-11 (2010), 10-6 (2009), 9-7 (2008), 8-8 (2007), 5-11 (2006)

Last Playoff Appearance: 2015 NFC Championship vs. Carolina Panthers

Last Playoff Win: 2015 Divisional vs. Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl Titles Won: 0

Passing Leader for 2015: Carson Palmer (4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns, 11 interceptions)

Rushing Leader for 2015: Chris Johnson (814 yards, 3 touchdowns)

Receiving Leader for 2015: Larry Fitzgerald (1,215 yards, 9 touchdowns)

The Head Coach:

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Bruce Arians

Overall Record (as a head coach): 43-17

Record With Team: 34-14

Previous NFL Jobs: Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs Coach (1989-1992), New Orleans Saints Tight Ends Coach (1996), Indianapolis Colts Quarterbacks Coach (1998-2000), Cleveland Browns Offensive Coordinator (2001-2003), Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receivers Coach (2004-2006), Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator (2007-2011), Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator & Interim Head Coach (2012)

My Grade: B+

The Team:

(Depth Charts will change as training camps progress obviously….)

Player Grade Guide:

Blue = Elite Player

Green = Really Good Player

Orange = Average Player

Pink = Meh

Red = NO THANKS

Gray = Rookie

Offense:

QB: Carson Palmer

RB: David Johnson

WR: Larry Fitzgerald

WR: Michael Floyd

WR: John Brown

TE: Darren Fells

OC: A.Q. Shipley

OG: Evan Mathis

OG: Mike Iupati

OT: D.J. Humphries

OT: Jared Veldheer

Defense:

DE: Calais Campbell

DT: Corey Peters

DE: Frostee Rucker

LB: Chandler Jones

LB: Markus Golden

LB: Kevin Minter

LB: Deone Bucannon

CB: Patrick Peterson

CB: Brandon Williams

SS: Tyrann Mathieu

FS: Tony Jefferson

The Schedule:

vs. New England Patriots (September 11)

vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (September 18)

vs. @ Buffalo Bills (September 25)

vs. Los Angeles Rams (October 2)

vs. @ San Francisco 49ers (October 6)

vs. New York Jets (October 17)

vs. Seattle Seahawks (October 23)

vs. @ Carolina Panthers (October 30)

BYE WEEK

vs. San Francisco 49ers (November 13)

vs. @ Minnesota Vikings (November 20)

vs. @ Atlanta Falcons (November 27)

vs. Washington Redskins (December 4)

vs. @ Miami Dolphins (December 11)

vs. New Orleans Saints (December 18)

vs. @ Seattle Seahawks (December 24)

vs. @ Los Angeles Rams (January 1)

The Prediction:

13-3

Brief Synopsis:

The Arizona Cardinals and Bruce Arians have enjoyed a lot of success in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. Since coming to Arizona in 2013, Arians has compiled three straight winning seasons and he’s improved in each one. Last year, the Cardinals were easily one of the best teams in the NFL, finishing with a 13-3 record and a spot in the NFC Championship game. With one of the best rosters in the NFL from top-to-bottom, the Cardinals look ready to once again come out and join the NFL’s elite teams this season. While there are definitely some concerns heading into the season (the Cardinals got WALLOPED by both Seattle and Carolina late in the season last year), Arizona still looks and feels like a legit Super Bowl contender….but are they? Let’s take a closer look.

Offensively, the Cardinals were a top 3 team in the NFL last season. They have arguably the best group of wide receivers in the NFL (Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd are all studs) and they have a quarterback who has no problem getting them the ball when he’s healthy. We’ve all heard it time and time again, but the Cardinals are a different team when Carson Palmer is healthy and slinging the ball downfield. Palmer isn’t a spring chicken though and the threads are wearing out on the tires. If the Cardinals are going to be a Super Bowl contender this year, a lot of the burden will lay on his shoulders. The good news for him is, not only does he have the stud group of WR’s to work with, but he’s also got a young running back who could do some real damage this year. David Johnson kind of came out of nowhere last season and he’ll have an even bigger year with a full season as a starter. As for the offensive line? It’s not the best in the NFL, but it’s definitely more than adequate. They have a few holes on the line, but overall it’s decent group. I fully expect the Cardinals to once again come out and score a lot of points and finish the year as one of the top offenses in the NFL.

Defensively, Arizona is good, but they have a few positions that could cause some concern as the season progresses. The Cardinals did manage to make a trade with New England for Chandler Jones this past off-season and that will help shore up their pass-rush a lot. Jones and Calais Campbell? Yikes. However, the strength of the Cardinals defense comes in the secondary though. With Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu sitting back there giving quarterbacks nightmares, the Cardinals shouldn’t have a lot of trouble preventing the ball from getting thrown downfield. That’s easier said than done though of course. Arizona finished last season with a top 10 defense and they’ll finish this season with a top 10 defense. Even though they have some holes on this unit, they are still stacked and will likely finish in the top 10 once again.

So, it’s pretty obvious that I’m once again high on the Arizona Cardinals this year. I love the talent that they have on the offensive side of the ball and I like the defense as well. Arizona is definitely a Super Bowl contender this year and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see the franchise win their first Lombardi trophy. Wait a second. Did I just put entirely too much pressure on Arians and the crew? My bad.

One thought on “2016 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

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