The Arizona Cardinals started the 2012 season by jumping off to a surprise 4-0 start. Without much expectations for the team, it appeared that somehow the Cardinals should continue their fast start, and translate that to a playoff berth. Yet at the end of the 2012 season, the 4-0 start was a thing of the past, as the Cardinals lost 11 of their last 12 games to finish 5-11, and as a result, the organization fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
While the Cardinals defense did a decent job of playing well, for the most part, the main downfall of the team last season was the inconsistencies at the quarterback position. During the season, the Cardinals had four players start and/or play quarterback, and as a result of the constant change and turmoil at the quarterback position, this was reflected in the play of the offense. The question of who will be starting at quarterback for the Cardinals entering 2013 will not be a question at all.
After having appointed former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as the team’s newest head coach, the Cardinals went ahead and brought in Carson Palmer to be the team’s newest and undisputed starting quarterback. Aside from bringing in Palmer to provide some much needed stability at the quarterback position, the Cardinals also brought in players like Rashard Mendenhall, Eric Winston and John Abraham, and drafted a talented player like Tyrann Mathieu to upgrade certain positions which lacked a potential game breaker and/or depth.
Looking at the Cardinals 2013 schedule, it is hard to see or imagine that the Cardinals record for the 2013 season will reflect the improvements they have made to their roster in the offseason. The Cardinals begin, what is on paper one of the most difficult schedules for the 2013 season, by visiting their NFC West division foe, the St. Louis their home opener coming in Week 2 against an also improved Detroit Lions team. Before their bye week, which comes during Week 9, the Cardinals visit the San Francisco 49ers in a Week 6 game; four days later they will have to take on another division foe in the Seattle Seahawks.
As if there was a “break” in their Week 8 game before their bye week, a beat up Cardinals team will have to travel to Atlanta to take on the Atlanta Falcons. The Cardinals end the season with two divisional games, as they visit the Seahawks in Week 16 and host the 49ers in Week 17. Aside from their NFC West games, the Cardinals will play against the AFC South this season, and as a result, will play against the likes of the Houston Texans and the Colts, both of whom they host at home.
In the end analysis, the Cardinals might be a better team than the one they had last season, but I expect them to finish with the same 5-11 record, maybe 6-10 record for 2013. The Cardinals have the misfortune of playing in the NFC West, and as such, are still the fourth best team in their own division; as a result, this dampens any expectations of the Cardinals aspiring to finish 8-8 or better.