The Arizona Cardinals look to bounce back in 2017 after a disappointing 2016 campaign in which they finished 7-8-1. The 2015 Cardinals were one win away from the Super Bowl, so finishing below .500 in 2016 came as a shock to many fans. Despite the inconsistency last season from the Cardinals, they still have a lot of talent on their roster. A trip to the playoffs in is truly a reachable feat in 2017.
Bruce Arians will look to climb up the ranks as the best head coach in Cardinals franchise history. He already ranks third all time in wins in franchise history (41), and he has the best record in any four year span in Cardinals franchise history as well.
The Cardinals defense is among the NFL’s best, and they will look to build off the 48 sacks last season, which led the National Football League. They surely will be better this season with the additions of linebackers Karlos Dansby and Jarvis Jones, as well as safety Antoine Bethea. The Cardinals secondary was already feared with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, and now opposing quarterbacks have to worry about Bethea as well. However, the Cardinals did lose two quality complementary secondary members in Marcus Cooper and D.J. Swearinger. Markus Golden and Chandler Jones return as one of the most feared tandems in football in terms of forcing sacks. Their 23.5 sacks combined last season almost made up half of the Cardinals sacks as an entire team. The Cardinals pieced together the positions they needed depth at this offseason, and should be more consistent all around as long as they manage to stay healthy on the defensive side of the football.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cardinals have Carson Palmer, who was a Pro Bowl Quarterback in 2015, but took a step back in 2016. He will look to have a bounce back season along with John Brown who had 10 touchdowns in 2015, but only managed to find the end zone twice in 2016. Old reliable Larry Fitzgerald will look to make it nine straight one thousand yard seasons. He continues to be the most sure handed receiver in football year after year, and 2017 should be no different for Fitz. The Cardinals look forward to having a healthy David Johnson back in 2017 as well. Johnson is arguably the most versatile running back in the entire league. He had an incredible 2016 season in which he reached the end zone twenty total times (16 rushing, 4 receiving). Johnson could easily repeat this kind of season in 2017 if given the chance. It will be curious to see if the Cardinals lighten his workload at all and elect to rotate some of the backups including Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington to ensure Johnson’s health throughout the season. His durability is not an issue, but teams can never be too careful with how they treat knee injuries.
The Cardinals have a favorable schedule. They will play the AFC South, who are all beatable opponents for them. They also have the luxury of playing in the same division as the 49ers and the Rams who are not very good football teams. These are 8 games the Cardinals should be favored in easily. However, they play the NFC East as well, which is arguably the best division in football. They will play 3 quality opponents in Philadelphia, Dallas, and New York. The Redskins is a winnable game for the Cardinals, which gives them 9 games they should be favored in. Tampa Bay and Detroit are two of the most important games that fans need to focus on. These are 3 of the 4 favorite teams to be the Wild Card teams out of the NFC this season, and wins against these teams will prove to be crucial.
Fans of the Arizona Cardinals should be hopeful of a playoff berth in 2017. They have one of the best defenses in the league, they have a top 3 running back, and they have a very experienced wide receiving core, including one of the league’s best in Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals have a favorable schedule and an experienced quarterback who is hungry to get to his first Super Bowl in Carson Palmer. A bounce back season is more likely than not for the Arizona Cardinals.
Photo Credits: Arizona Sports