Carson Palmer is better than people think. Once a top quarterback, he took a giant step back and since has been ridiculed, but he was not bad last season.
He threw for 4,000 yards. His passer rating was 85.3, certainly not great, but exactly average at 16th in the league. He was an average quarterback with almost no help from his receivers. Think of it this way, if I told you a quarterback had 4,000 yards passing, a completion percentage over 60 percent and not a single solid receiver, you’d think he was at least above average, right?
Well guess what: now Palmer has one of the best receivers in the league. The Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald pairing should be a good one as Palmer is a major upgrade from Fitzgerald’s quarterbacks last year.
Each should have a much better season than they did last year, making the Arizona Cardinals offense able to move the ball, unlike last year. The Cardinals simply had the worst offense in the league, scoring 32nd in overall DVOA, 31st in passing DVOA and 32nd in rushing DVOA. That isn’t just bad — that’s atrocious.
The Cards were actually good on defense, ranking sixth in defensive DVOA. With Palmer, the Cardinals have a chance to be good. The NFC West is a tough division, but with some luck, the Cards could compete for a wild card spot, especially if Palmer performs.
Palmer will start his big year against a relatively weak St. Louis Rams secondary. The Rams were below average when defending pass plays last year according to DVOA. Not only that, but the Rams have not exactly improved in the secondary; they are starting rookie T.J. McDonald and ex-backup Darian Stewart at safety.
McDonald could but good, but the third-round draft pick will probably have some growing pains, especially in Week 1. Stewart did not start in 2012, after having a terrible 2011 where he played in 11 games and missed 20 tackles. The veteran in Palmer should be able to capitalize on rookie mistakes, and one missed tackle from Stewart could have big dividends for the Cards. Look for Palmer to have a big season and start it off in Week 1, taking a win from the favored Rams.
Prediction: Palmer throws for 300 yards and the Cards steal a win in St. Louis.