TDT NFL Power Rankings No. 21: Arizona Cardinals
Is the championship window closing for the Cardinals, or is there some gas left in the tank?
The Arizona Cardinals finished with a 7-8-1 record last season, leaving people to question whether or not this team, the way it is currently constructed, is capable of another playoff run. They believe Carson Palmer, who turns 38 at season’s end, is still their guy at quarterback. But, can he stay healthy? Is Larry Fitzgerald still a No. 1 receiver? Can their defense be better than last season? The answer to all these questions need to be “yes” if they want to get back to the playoffs.
What I Like: David Johnson. He was one of the NFL’s breakout stars a season ago, rushing for more than 1,200 yards and 20 total touchdowns. They also drafted a few big-time players on defense in linebacker Haason Reddick and safety Budda Baker, who should make in impact from Day 1.
What I Don’t Like: The Cardinals have several holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. Calais Campbell is one of five defensive starters they lost in the offseason. His presence up front will be sorely missed, especially when it comes to stopping the run. They also lost safety Tony Jefferson, who isn’t as big of a loss as Campbell, but was a solid contributor. The No. 2 cornerback position is also up in the air right now.
Offensive MVP: RB David Johnson Like I stated earlier, the Cardinals offense goes through David Johnson. He’s proven that he can be a bell-cow type of back. Not only is he a gifted runner, but he makes monumental plays as a receiver as well. I expect another monster season from Johnson, barring a major injury of course.
Defensive MVP: CB Patrick Peterson Peterson may not see a lot action this season, but that’s the exact reason why he’s the defensive MVP. Opposing quarterbacks don’t even look his way. There are few lockdown corners in the NFL and he’s one of them. He’ll be tasked with matching up with each opponent’s top receiver and he’s up for the challenge.
Season Outlook: I feel like the jury is still out for Arizona. If all the stars align perfectly, this team could contend for the NFC West crown, but I highly doubt that will happen. Their offense will be explosive, but there are some injury concerns. I’m not sure if they did enough to improve their defense this offseason either. To answer my earlier question, yes. That Super Bowl window is closing and fast. Unfortunately for them, they are far from a Super Bowl team heading into the season.
8-8, 2nd in NFC West