3rd Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Arizona Cardinals

The NFC West is the final division in our previews of all 32 NFL teams, and the first team we’re previewing in the division is the Arizona Cardinals, who won the division last season.

The Cardinals set a franchise record last season, winning 13 games on the way to winning the NFC West title and eventually making it to the NFC Championship, where they didn’t play a good game. The Cardinals did well on both sides of the ball last season, but their window of opportunity closing, as QB Carson Palmer will be 37 by the end of the season and WR Larry Fitzgerald just turned 33. They have youth in the running game, though, with second-year RB David Johnson.

In his 12th season in the league, Palmer threw for career highs in passing yards and touchdowns, with 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns. Fitzgerald led the team with 109 receptions for 1,215 yards and 9 touchdowns. WRs John Brown and Michael Floyd also put up good numbers despite not playing in all 16 games. Brown caught 65 balls for 1,003 yards and 7 touchdowns while Floyd added 52 catches for 849 yards and 6 touchdowns. RB Chris Johnson led the team in rushing last season, running for 814 yards and 3 touchdowns on 196 carries in nine starts. David Johnson started five games, running the ball 125 times for 581 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also added 457 receiving yards and 4 receiving touchdowns to his totals. The defense ranked in the top 10 in points allowed and grabbed the fourth-most interceptions in the league, with 19.

The Cardinals look like they should be able to have another good season, with the majority of the team’s core returning intact. If the receivers can stay on the field more than they did last season, the team may even seen a bit of an uptick in production from the unit. If the running game and defense can keep up what they did last season, the Cardinals should continue their success. One thing to worry about for the defense is a knee injury plaguing S Tyrann Mathieu that could keep him out of action to begin the season, although that is not known at this point.

The Cardinals begin the season with a Sunday night home game against the Tom Brady-less Patriots in what will be QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s first career start. Their first road game comes in Week 3 against the Bills. In Week 6, the Cardinals hos the Jets on Monday night. They stay at home in Week 7, when the Seahawks come to town. In Week 8, the Cardinals hit the road to take on the Panthers in a rematch of last season’s conference championship game, which leads into a Week 9 bye. Coming out of the bye, the Cardinals host the 49ers in Week 10, then visit the Vikings in Week 11. The Cardinals head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in Week 16 before concluding their regular season in Week 11 at the Rams. The Cardinals won 13 games last season, and I’m projecting another similarly strong season in 2016.

Source: http://www.azcardinals.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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