At last we reach what should defend its crown as the best division in football this year, the NFC West. My 2013 NFL team preview series has hit many points where relegating a team to the bottom of a division or missing the playoffs just felt brutal, as I really think many of these teams will be better than widely expected.
That sentiment comes into play here with the Arizona Cardinals, who I suspect could very easily go .500 outside of their division but 0-6 against the NFC West, dropping them to a 5-11 mark and another top-ten pick. This is unfortunate, because this team should undergo the most dramatic offensive improvement of any team in the NFL.
I leaped off the Carson Palmer bandwagon during his final season (on field) for the Cincinnati Bengals and his tenure in Oakland does not provide hope for him becoming a top 10 quarterback, but I do think Arizona upgrades from “absolute worst quarterback situation” to “above-average guy who can sling it” and that this will make all the difference. With Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, for whom I predict big things in his second year, a QB who can at least push it downfield and within reasonably accurate radius should make this a decently productive offense.
What holds them back in my opinion is the shuffled offensive line — which should be much better despite losing top pick Jonathan Cooper — and a defense that lost brilliant coordinator Ray Horton and many key components of recent years this offseason. Tyrann Mathieu could very well be the wild-card here that changes my evaluation in the coming weeks, but I’m assuming this unit takes a big step back as its offense takes a huge one forward.
Predicted Regular Season Record: 5-11 (4th in NFC West)
Predicted Finish: Miss postseason