The Arizona Cardinals have been a team on the rise over the past few seasons. They are led by a stingy defense but also hope to have a healthy Carson Palmer to see what the offense can become with a full season healthy. They are certainly a playoff caliber team but will need their offense to develop in order to become a true super bowl contender. They are in a tough division with the Seattle Seahawks but should be able to compete for the division title. Their offense will be tested in week one when they will have to attempt to keep up with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. It will be a battle of great offense versus great defense but Arizona should be slightly favored in this game since it is at home.
The Saints play much better in front of their home crowd. Including the Saints, the Cardinals have tough non-divisional games against Pittsburgh, Detroit, Green Bay, and Cincinnati. They have a pretty tough schedule overall and will likely have to fight for a wild card spot, thanks to Seattle. Arizona’s best shot this season may be taking care of business against divisional opponents not named Seattle. If they can sweep San Francisco and St. Louis they will be in good shape. St. Louis is improving but Arizona should still be superior and San Francisco will likely take a step back after the amount of retirees on their defense. Overall, Arizona is better than these two teams and they could have a great shot at winning the division or at least earning a wild card position if they can defeat them.
Graphic via raisingzona
They also need to take care of business early on in the season as well because the last two weeks of the season they face Green Bay and Seattle. It is important that they are not battling for a playoff position still at that point in the season. Against Green Bay it will be hard for the Cardinals offense to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers. Arizona and Seattle have similar defenses but Seattle is better overall offensively. With the addition of Jimmy Graham the gap has also widened for Seattle. The one advantage the Cardinals do have is that those last two ball games are on their home field. What it comes down to this year for Arizona is the health of Carson Palmer. They have had a decent offense with a healthy Palmer and while his backups have played decent overall there has still been a drop off in production. Their tough defense will be able to keep them into every game, so it is up to the offense to keep up with their end of the bargain.
Graphic via rantsports