By: Josh Shippen
For the past few years the NFC West has been a three team powerhouse and the Arizona Cardinals. But change is on its way, the Arizona Cardinals have the potential not only to make a surge as a wild card team, but to be the top team in the West with their absolutely insane offense, an improving defense, and a team that is extremely well coached.
The offense’s field general, Kyler Murray, showed his potential as a game manager, throwing for 3,772 yards and 20 touchdowns, with a 64.4 completion percentage, which is impressive for a rookie with a mediocre surrounding talent during his first year. Some of you might look at the roster and say, what has changed? Well, a lot, on offense the Cardinals have an established starting running back in Kenyan Drake, with third year back Chase Edmonds as a high ceiling 2nd string who had a couple really strong games last year.
While Murray’s tight end group may be lacking, all of it is made up for with one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL, starring Deandre Hopkins, arguably the best receiver over the past 3 years in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald, no description necessary, and a young rising star slot receiver in Christian Kirk. Also in this group is 2nd year former UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who had one or two good games as a rookie, and was a beast in college. With all this and an OK offensive line, Murray has all the weapons he needs to make this team a top 10, maybe even top 5 offense.
The defense, while lacking depth, has 3 stars in CB Pat Pete, S Budda Baker, and OLB/DE Chandler Jones who could at least make this defense competitive. The difference between this year’s team and last year’s team are namely: they start the year with Patrick Peterson (He was out with a 6 game PED suspension last year), they start the year with Kenyan Drake (who was acquired last year in a midseason trade), Kyler Murray has a pro year under his belt, and they have one of the top 3 receivers in the league in Hopkins. But some might point out that this is one of the most badass divisions in the NFL, which includes the NFC Super Bowl contender.
The Cardinals showed they could contend with the Seahawks already last year, and the Seahawks have not made many actions to improve their team yet, the 49ers are definitely a challenge, but losing to the Falcons late in the season shows that they can be beaten by middle of the road teams, and the Rams are somewhat in a rebuild mode, parting ways with Todd Gurley, Dante Fowler, and Clay Matthews, and are actively shopping Brandin Cooks. One other thing working in the Cardinals favor is the addition of a new playoff team in each Conference, which could make the difference for this team in a loaded NFC.
The Cardinals have everything they need to succeed in the NFC West, all they have to do is have their good players perform like the stand out players they have in years past.