Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals just missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record in 2013, their first under head coach Bruce Arians. Being in the division with the two teams that played in last year’s NFC championship game, including the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, means the Cardinals likely have to get a wild card if they want to make the playoffs. If 10 wins didn’t do it last year, would another 10-win season be enough this time out?
In his first year with the team, veteran QB Carson Palmer threw for a career-high 4274 yards in 2013 along with 24 touchdowns. In his 10th year with the team, WR Larry Fitzgerald led the team with 82 receptions and 10 receiving touchdowns while second-year WR Michael Floyd had the most receiving yards on the team with 1041. The team’s main option in the running game last year was RB Rashard Mendenhall, who retired after last season at the age of 26. His backup was rookie RB Andre Ellington, who will be the starter this season. Ellington played in 15 games last season, but only started one, and ran for 652 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
With Ellington the full-time starter for the first time in his young career, Palmer will need another good season in the passing game to lead the offense and take some pressure off the young running back. He’ll be counting on Fitzgerald to bounce back after two subpar seasons to return to the 1000-plus-yard seasons he had every year from 2007 to 2011. If Fitzgerald can get back to the 1000-yard mark and Floyd can repeat his breakout performance from 2013, the Cardinals have a real shot at another season with double-digit wins. The schedule won’t make it easy for the Cards, who face three of last year’s playoff teams in their first four games and end the season with back-to-back games against the Seahawks and a road game against the 49ers.
Source: http://www.azcardinals.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com