Blaine Spencer takes a look at the Cardinals’ roster and makes his predictions as the team face another season in a very difficult NFC West.
The Arizona Cardinals’ offseason hype is finally over. The celebrated trade for Deandre Hopkins happened more than five months ago. It’s time to see if the optimism can finally turn into reality after a promising first season.
The team will be looking to see if the spread offense has been figured out by opposing defensive coordinators. They are comfortable and primed to make at least a run at a playoff spot potentially if the growth is shown for year one to year two.
The team has a difficult gauntlet in one of the toughest divisions in the NFC West. This year is an opportunity to show growth.
The offense is all dependent upon quarterback Kyler Murray, who was the first overall pick in 2019. A crucial component is the avoidance of the sophomore slump in the NFL after being Offensive Rookie of the Year. His dual-threat ability creates nightmares for defenses and the improved cast will hopefully help thrive.
Hopkins was the marquee acquisition of the offseason and having arguably the best receiver in football with future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, and young star Christian Kirk creates one of the best corps in football.
The versatility in back Kenyan Drake compliments the spread offense perfectly to be an outlet to catch the ball as well as being one of the hottest backs at the end of the year. It’s difficult to imagine not being one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
The biggest move was making safety Budda Baker the highest paid safety in football. This move guarantees a strong secondary with veteran Patrick Peterson coming back after many thought he could potentially to be moved.
This defense is the weak point on this team no doubt by allowing the most yards in the NFL at 402.0 per game. In order to combat this, the selection of all-around player Isaiah Simmons who can play multiple positions fell to them in the draft.
Hopefully this will allow them to be more creative defensively and allow linebacker Chandler Jones to be the dominant pass-rusher he was last season where he had 19.0 sacks. If the defense can be remotely better, it will allow the team to have more opportunities to win games.
The beginning of the season will set the stage for the success of the team this season. They open up with San Francisco but have four winnable games after that. The schedule gets tougher but the early opportunities to win give them a chance for a solid season. It will all come down to Murray as he is the engine for this highly potent offense.
The odds for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl is +5000 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. I’m not expecting a Super Bowl out of Phoenix but I want to see them win some close games which help them grow significantly. This year is still a learning curve for the squad.
Prediction: 7-9, 4th in NFC West
The Cardinals will get off to solid start but I think teams will start to figure out their offense a bit. Plus, the NFC West is brutal with the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers. The fast start will give them a chance to be .500 but I think they will come up just short. They will be very competitive but the defense will have some ways to go.
The team will have its up and downs but the growth shown by the team as a whole will provide a great opportunity for a great 2021. I think the Cardinals are still one year away to be legitimate playoff contenders.