10 Players That Will Lead the Arizona Cardinals to the 2013 Playoffs

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10 Players That Will Lead the Arizona Cardinals to the 2013 Playoffs

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, the NFC West division was nicknamed the “NFC Worst” as the Seattle Seahawks won the division with a losing record. However, the difference two years makes is huge as the Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers are now powerhouse teams in the NFC that are the odds on favorites to win the Super Bowl, let alone the NFC. Even the St. Louis Rams have bolstered their team after adding a second first round pick with swapping picks with the Washington Redskins for this year and next year as well.

And then there’s the Arizona Cardinals who had the worst record in the division despite starting the season 4-0 only to finish 5-11. They also have ten guys currently on their team that could still put them back into the playoffs in the 2013 NFL playoffs. Offensive line play was one of their biggest drawbacks as then quarterback Kevin Kolb was sacked 27 times in six games and was severely injured versus the Buffalo Bills, but he never played for them again last year.

The Cardinals have had a fairly good off-season so far as they have acquired players via trade and free agency that should make the team better than it was last year while they also got younger by cutting notable veterans. The Cardinals have the seventh pick in the upcoming draft. So if the team drafts, well they possibly could have a similar turnaround the way the Seahawks and 49ers did which would turn the “NFC Worst” into the “NFC Best” in three short years as it could be a four team race to win the division.

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#10 Sam Acho

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Starting off we have outside linebacker Sam Acho, who became a starter this past year. Acho had four sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 44 total tackles in 2012. If he continues to progress into year three, he should become a solid, dependable linebacker.

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#9 Jay Feely

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kicker Jay Feely has been dependable for 12 years now, the last three with Arizona. Last year to tie a game versus the Buffalo Bills, he set his career long by drilling a 61 yard field goal. He was 25 of 28 field goal attempts or 89.3% last year which is a very good kicking percentage.

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#8 Rashard Mendenhall

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest Achilles heel for the Cardinals seemingly forever and a day has been running the football. Rashard Mendenhall, if he can stay healthy, will give the Cardinals a legit running attack which they have sorely lacked for over a decade now.

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#7 Darnell Dockett

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Darnell Dockett is seen as one of the defensive leaders that's still on the team. The 31 year old last year had only a sack and a half with 34 total tackles, which doesn't sound like much, but as a 3-4 defensive end, all players can't play like J.J. Watt. Dockett needs to lead by example and inspire the defense to keep being the strength of the team.

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#6 Michael Floyd

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Floyd was the most talked about wide receiver in last year's draft. There were questions whether he could bury his past demons or not. So far it seems like he has conquered them which is good. In his rookie year he had 45 catches with 562 receiving yards and two touchdowns. If Floyd progresses, he will be an amazing #2 wide receiver for the Cardinals in 2013.

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#5 Antoine Cason

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Antoine Cason was a University of Arizona product so it seems only natural that he would sign with the Arizona Cardinals. In 2012 for the San Diego Chargers, Cason had two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 73 total tackles. Playing in the same state as he did in college could yield huge dividends for the former late first round pick.

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#4 Calais Campbell

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Calais Campbell is an absolute monster at 6' 8" and 292 lbs. and is a superb 3-4 defensive end. Last year, Campbell had six and a half sacks, 63 total tackles in 13 games. He will need to play in all 16 games in 2013.

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#3 Carson Palmer

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Newly acquired quarterback Carson Palmer seems to be their short term solution as the leader of the team. Under new head coach Bruce Arians, maybe Palmer can resurrect his career. Last season, Palmer had 4,018 yards passing with 22 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions for the Oakland Raiders. This change of scenery might be beneficial to him with who he has to throw to in the desert.

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#2 Larry Fitzgerald

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably a wide receiver that's in the top three of his position in Larry Fitzgerald. In 2012, Fitzgerald easily had his worst season as a pro due to playing with four different quarterbacks. The Cardinals also had an anemic offensive line at best. If they can fix that problem, he can return to previous glory in 2013.

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#1 Patrick Peterson

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Peterson is easily the best player on the Arizona Cardinals as both cornerback and return specialist. Iff he plays great, this team doesn't have to worry about one wide receiver for opposing teams. Peterson is often compared to Hall of Fame member Deion Sanders in almost every way between his athleticism, wearing #21, and even his high stepping. In 2012, Peterson had seven interceptions with 55 tackles as well and if he keeps growing, 2013 could be downright frightening for opposing offenses.


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