2. Arizona Cardinals
Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws during the second half against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Key Losses: Darnell Dockett, Antonio Cromartie, Todd Bowles (defensive coordinator)
Key Additions: Mike Iupati, Sean Weatherspoon, Larry Fitzgerald
The Arizona Cardinals were a torn ACL away from having the road to the Super Bowl travel through Glendale last season.
After Carson Palmer, the starting quarterback, tore his ACL in Week 10 of the NFL season, the wheels fell off the bandwagon. Ryan Lindley looked like, well, Ryan Lindley, Andre Ellington couldn’t get anything done in between the tackles, and Larry Fitzgerald suffered through his worst season as a pro, scoring only two TDs and recording 784 receiving yards.
But this year, the Cardinals look to be loaded again, especially with some of the additions they made. Antonio Cromartie and Darnell Dockett left the desert for New York and San Francisco, respectively, but the biggest departure may be Todd Bowles, the former defensive coordinator.
Bowles was the mastermind behind a defense that some said would challenge Seattle’s Legion of Boom for the title of top defense in the NFL.
Bowles will be missed more than the Cardinals think, which is why I have the Cardinals as less of a threat than the next team on this list.
However, the Cardinals did make some excellent moves to bolster their roster. Mike Iupati is now in the cardinal and white, which will greatly bolster Arizona’s run game, whether Adrian Peterson or Andre Ellington is in the backfield.
The Cardinals made an excellent move by keeping Fitzgerald, who is due for a bounceback season in the near future. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy for at least 12 games, Fitzgerald has a real shot to have a 1,000 yard season once again.
However, the Cardinals’ best move was the move that likely went under the radar.
The Cardinals picked up outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, a former University of Missouri star, who should help improve the linebacking corps for Arizona.
While Bruce Arians and the Cardinals will surely post a winning record this year, I’m not sure it will be enough for the second place spot in the NFC West.
Projected record: 10-6
Next: #1 NFC West Threat