With the many upgrades made to both sides of the football, the Cardinals are now considered the dark horse in the NFC West. With two young quarterbacks, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, as well as a still-unproven Sam Bradford in the division, anything is possible.
Though the 2012 season yielded very high praise Kaepernick and Wilson, the dreaded sophomore slump is upon them. So far this year, the San Francisco 49ers have had a Jekyll and Hyde first two weeks in the QB slot. Wilson, on the other hand, has proven so far that he’s the real deal for the Seattle Seattle Seahawks.
With the acquisition of Carson Palmer, everything changed in Cardinals Country. A competent, albeit older, quarterback coupled with an offensive-minded head coach could be the perfect storm that lifts the wool blanket over University of Phoenix Stadium to unleash the beast that all Arizonians have been waiting for since Kurt Warner retired.
Larry Fitzgerald‘s career has a pulse again. Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts now have a chance to make an impact because their well-being is directly correlated to the performance of Fitz.
Now, the defense. A bright spot, and maybe the only bright spot last season has the dreaded Achilles’ heel of not being able to hang on to a lead — a Cardinal sin, if you will. Patrick Peterson and the newly-drafted Tyrann Matthieu have sparked the Cardinals with one of the most exciting subplots in professional sports: extremely raw, talented youth.
Peterson is starting to come into his own while the Honey Badger is still, and has always been, a wildcard. This wildcard, however, has nothing but upside. Because the Cardinals drafted him in third round, they’re playing with house money. If he does what the front office and coaches think he can do, watch out NFL.
The Cardinals have the seventh-toughest schedule for the 2013 NFL season, so it’s going to be tough to not only make it out of arguably the toughest division in the NFL, but even obtain one of those playoff slots. If they get a couple of bounces, stay healthy and keep the high-powered Bruce Arians offense on full blast all year, who knows … the Arizona Cardinals may just come out of the NFC West on top.