Arizona Cardinals Predictions
The Arizona Cardinals quietly put together a respectable 8-8 campaign in 2011. This team was certainly an afterthought after a 3-7 start, but they showed a ton of pride down the stretch. Arizona would go on to win five of its final six games of the season to give itself some momentum heading into 2012.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt enters his sixth season as head coach. He has compiled a 40-40 record here, but this team just hasn’t been the same since Kurt Warner retired. Here is a look at the personnel on both sides of the ball, as well as my prediction on where the Cardinals finish in the NFC West.
The offense managed just 19.5 points and 325 total yards per game last season. Once again, the Cardinals received shaky quarterback play, which was the biggest reason for their struggles on this side of the ball.
Arizona traded for Kevin Kolb last offseason to be the face of the franchise. But Kolb struggled with turf toe and a concussion, injuries that gave him a free pass. Kolb will open the season as the starter after completing 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,955 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions last year. He’ll be backed up by John Skelton, who completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 1,913 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while replacing Kolb.
RB Beanie Wells was finally able to stay healthy last season, which was a huge bonus. He rushed for 1,047 yards on 4.3/carry with 10 touchdowns. The Cardinals received a big blow when ’11 second-round pick Ryan Williams was lost for the season with a torn patella tendon suffered in the preseason. With a healthy return from Williams, Arizona will have that 1-2 punch it has been looking for.
The Cardinals have been in search of a solid No. 2 receiver to compliment Larry Fitzgerald ever since Anquan Boldin left for Baltimore. They may have found that guy in first-round pick Michael Floyd (Notre Dame). He should be a star right away to help take some attention away from Fitzgerald (80 receptions, 1,411 yards, eight TD). Early Doucet (54, 689, five TD) and Andre Roberts (51, 586, two TD) will figure into the mix once again. TE Todd Heap (24, 283, one TD) showed signs of aging last year as he missed six games due to injury, so the Cardinals signed free agent TE Jeff King from Carolina.
After allowing 50 sacks in ’10, the offensive line yielded 54 sacks in ’11, which was the second-highest total in the league. This unit is clearly a weakness, and that’s why the Cardinals went out and signed RG Adam Snyder from San Francisco. They also drafted two rookie tackles in Nate Potter (Boise State) and Bobby Massie (Ole Miss). LT Levi Brown (11.5 sacks allowed) and RT Jeremy Bridges (6.5 sacks allowed) have not lived up to expectations. LG Daryn Colledge and C Lyle Sendlein are solid inside.
The defense surrendered 30-plus points in four of their first seven games last season. However, this unit improved as ’11 wore on, giving up 23 or fewer points in each of their last nine contests. The stop unit yielded an average of 18.3 points during that span.
The defensive line is anchored by two very solid DE’s in Calais Campbell (72 tackles, 8 sacks, 10 pass break-ups) and Darnell Dockett (51 tackles, 9 for loss, 3.5 sacks). The Cardinals need more out of their two DT’s in ’10 first-rounder Dan Williams (20 tackles) and ’11 rookie David Carter (16 tackles, 4.5 for loss).
The linebacker corps features three starters that have a combined five years of NFL experience, but this is a solid unit as a whole. LOLB O’Brien Schofield (37 tackles, 4.5 sacks), LILB Daryl Washington (107 tackles, 13.5 for loss, nine passes defended), and ROLB Sam Acho (40 tackles, 7 sacks) are three youngsters that have certainly panned out. RILB Peris Lenon (93 tackles, 6.5 for loss) continues to get it done as he enters his 11th year in the league.
The secondary parts ways with CB Richard Marshall (78 tackles, 11 pass break-ups, three INT), but welcomes back two of the most electric playmakers in the game. CB Patrick Peterson (64 tackles, 13 pass break-ups, two INT) played well on defense as a rookie, but single-handedly won two games for Arizona last year with punt return touchdowns. SS Adrian Wilson (65 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 15 passes defended) is one of the most feared safeties in the league even at age 33. The Cardinals have signed CB William Gay (61 tackles, 13 pass break-ups, two INT) from Pittsburgh to battle AJ Jefferson (66 tackles, 13 passes defended) to replace the departed Marshall. FS Kerry Rhodes (34 tackles, 2 sacks) returns healthy after missing nine games last season due to injury.
NFC West Prediction – 2nd Place (6-10 Record)
I like what Arizona has done to improve its receiving corps in drafting Floyd to start opposite Fitzgerald, which gives Kolb some real weapons outside. The Cardinals played well down the stretch last season thanks to their defense, and they should be able to build off of it. However, the schedule gets tougher this year as the Cardinals will have to play the NFC North and the AFC East, two divisions that are stronger than they were a year ago. They also draw Atlanta from the NFC South and Philadelphia from the NFC East. While the roster appears improved, the team will actually suffer a drop in wins due to the schedule.
Individual Team NFL Season Predictions
|AFC West||AFC North||AFC South||AFC East|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Pittsburgh Steelers||Indianapolis Colts||New England Patriots|
|San Diego Chargers||Baltimore Ravens||Jacksonville Jaguars||New York Jets|
|Oakland Raiders||Cleveland Browns||Houston Texans||Miami Dolphins|
|Denver Broncos||Cincinnati Bengals||Tennessee Titans||Buffalo Bills|
|NFC West||NFC North||NFC South||NFC East|
|Seattle Seahawks||Chicago Bears||Atlanta Falcons||Philadelphia Eagles|
|St. Louis Rams||Green Bay Packers||New Orleans Saints||New York Giants|
|San Francisco 49ers||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Bucs||Dallas Cowboys|
|Arizona Cardinals Predictions||Minnesota Vikings||Carolina Panthers||Washington Redskins|