Arizona Cardinals Predictions

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The Arizona Cardinals were the surprise of the league early into the 2013 season. They got off to a 4-0 start that featured home victories over the Seahawks, Eagles and Dolphins, as well as a shocking 20-18 road triumph against the Patriots. That’s where everything went downhill. The Cardinals would go on to lose 11 of their final 12 games of the season. That would lead to the firing of head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who guided this franchise to the Super Bowl in 2008.

There’s no question that the biggest problems this team faced were on offense last year. In fact, Arizona ranked 32nd in the league in total offense (263.1 yards/game) and 31st in scoring (15.6 points/game). Quarterback play was the issue once again as Kevin Kolb couldn’t stay healthy, and John Skelton struggled when forced into action. It didn’t help that the offensive line surrendered a league-high 58 sacks. Plus, Arizona’s leading rusher last year was LaRod Stephens-Howling (356 yards, 4 TD).

Arizona’s defense has been steadily improving over the last few years due to great additions through the draft and free agency. It finished 12th in the league in total defense (337.8 yards/game) in 2012. Daryl Washington had a big year at linebacker, leading the team with 134 tackles and 9.0 sacks. Kerry Rhodes (67 tackles, 4 INT) played pretty well at free safety, while Patrick Peterson had a breakout sophomore campaign with seven interceptions.

Last Season
NFC West
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
4th
5-11
7-8-1
3-5
4-3-1
7-9
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
32nd
12th
-1
15.6
22.3
2013 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Jonathan Cooper (G), Kevin Minter (ILB), Tyrann Mathieu (S), Alex Okafor (DE/OLB), Earl Watford (G), Stepfan Taylor (RB), Ryan Swope (WR), Andre Ellington (RB)
Additions
Carson Palmer (QB), Drew Stanton (QB), Rashard Mendenhall (RB), Chilo Rachal (G), Frostee Rucker (DE), Matt Shaughnessy (DE), Quentin Groves (DE/OLB), Karlos Dansby (ILB), Jasper Brinkley (ILB), Antoine Cason (CB), Javier Arenas (CB), Jerraud Powers (CB), Yeremiah Bell (S)
Losses
Kevin Kolb (QB), John Skelton (QB), Brian Hoyer (QB), Chris Wells (RB), LaRod Stephens-Howling (RB), Anthony Sherman (FB), Early Doucet (WR), Adam Snyder (G), Nick Eason (DE/DT), Paris Lenon (ILB), Stewart Bradley (ILB), Greg Toler (CB), William Gay (CB), Michael Adams (CB), Adrian Wilson (S), Kerry Rhodes (S), James Sanders (S)
Schedule
2013 Arizona Cardinals Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/8 @ Rams
+4.5
0.33
9/15 Lions
+2.5
0.45
9/22 @ Saints
+7.5
0.22
9/29 @ Bucs
+4.5
0.33
10/6 Panthers
+1.5
0.47
10/13 @ 49ers
+10
0.16
10/17 Seahawks
+6
0.29
10/27 Falcons
+4
0.34
Week 9 BYE
11/10 Texans
+3
0.41
11/17 @ Jaguars
PK
0.50
11/24 Colts
PK
0.50
12/1 @ Eagles
+4
0.34
12/8 Rams
PK
0.50
12/15 @ Titans
+1
0.49
12/22 @ Seahawks
+8.5
0.20
12/29 49ers
+6.5
0.28
Estimated Wins: 5.81

Arizona has been done no favors this season. It will be up against the seventh-toughest schedule in the league in 2013. Its upcoming opponents combined for a 131-121-4 (52.0%) record last year. Of course, it doesn’t help to be playing in the same division as two of the favorites to win the Super Bowl in the 49ers and Seahawks. Plus, the Rams are steadily improving.

Taking a look at the odds released by Cantor Gaming, the Cardinals will not be favored in any game they play in 2013. Their home schedule is absolutely brutal as they will face five teams that made the playoffs last year in the Falcons, Texans, Colts, Seahawks and 49ers. Plus, they will host the improving Lions, Panthers and Rams.

That means many of their winnable games will come on the road in 2013, which is never a good thing for a team looking to improve upon a poor 5-11 campaign. Only two playoff teams (49ers, Seahawks) appear on their road schedule this year. Arizona will have winnable games at St. Louis, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Tennessee. If this team is going to surprise in 2013, it will have to come away with a winning road record.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIII
5.5
75 to 1
125 to 1
Predictions

Bruce Arians will be getting his first head coaching job in the NFL at age 60. He won Coach of the Year honors last season with the Indianapolis Colts while filling in for Chuck Pagano, who was battling leukemia. Arians did a tremendous job, guiding a Colts team that had a huge turnover within their roster to the playoffs in 2012.

Arians is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league, which could come in handy after the Cardinals finished near the bottom of almost every major category on this side of the ball last season. Arizona traded for Carson Palmer this offseason, hoping that he’ll have a revival similar to what Kurt Warner had with the franchise a few years ago.

Coming off the worst season of his career, Larry Fitzgerald has to be happy about finally getting a quarterback. Now, Palmer needs 2012 first-rounder Michael Floyd to come into his own in 2013. He did have 14 catches for 213 yards over his final two games as a rookie, so that’s a positive sign heading into the new season. Slot receiver Andre Roberts had 64 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns last year. Tight end Rob Housler should play a much bigger role this season as Palmer loves his tight ends, targeting Brandon Myers in Oakland more than any of his other receivers.

The offense is in search of a running game, which is why the Cardinals added Rashard Mendenhall, while also drafting rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington. To have an improved ground attack, the offensive line must play better. That’s why Arizona used its No. 7 pick in the first round on guard Jonathan Cooper. Getting back left tackle Levi Brown, who missed all of 2012 with a torn triceps, is absolutely huge. 2012 rookie right tackle Bobbie Massie surrendered a ridiculous 13 sacks from Weeks 3 through 8, but he didn’t allow a single sack the rest of the way, which is a promising sign going forward.

Arizona’s defense actually held up pretty well last season despite injuries to arguably its two best players on this side of the ball. Defensive ends Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell each missed time last year. Cambell was out for three games in the middle of the season, while Dockett was bothered by a hamstring over the final three months. These two combined for 11.5 sacks in 2011, and with a healthy return in 2013, they will anchor a very solid defensive line.

Getting a pass rush on the edge is a priority heading into the new season. Sam Acho and the injury-prone O’Brien Shofield simply did not get it done last year. That’s why the Cardinals spent a fourth-round pick on Texas DE/OLB Alex Okafor. They also signed Lorenzo Alexander in the offseason. Daryl Washington was a stud at inside linebacker, leading the team in tackles while registering nine sacks. However, he’ll be suspended for the first four games of the season. Karlos Dansby has returned to the Cardinals after a 3-year stint in Miami. Adding depth to the position is second-round rookie Kevin Minter, who will likely start in the absence of Washington in the early going.

Finding more of a pass rush will be huge to make up for a suspect secondary. Patrick Peterson is already a star and is only going to get better, but the rest of the unit is a big question mark. Antoine Cason is expected to start opposite Peterson despite getting torched in San Diego last year. Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson, the team’s starters at safety in 2012, are gone. Yeremiah Bell and Rashad Johnson are penciled in as the starters in their place. Bell turned 35 in March, but he’s still getting it done in this league. Plus, the Cardinals took a chance by using a third-round pick on Tyrann Mathieu, who could make his way into the lineup.

Arizona wants everyone to believe that it is reloading, not rebuilding. Some of the moves it has made this offseason would support that claim. The quarterback play can’t be any worse, but Palmer is past his prime. I do like what the front seven of the defense looks like provided Dockett and Cambell can stay healthy. However, I’m concerned about a suspect secondary outside of Peterson. This is clearly the worst team in the NFC West on paper. Plus, the schedule doesn’t set up well at all as most of the Cardinals’ winnable games are on the road. That’s why I’m picking Arizona to finish last in the NFC West in 2013.

Projections
NFC West Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
4th
1-5
5-11
Under 5.5
Cardinals Resources
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About the Author: Jack Jones has been one of the top experts on the site while competing against roughly 80 of the best handicappers in the world each year. He has made most of his money on the hardwood. In fact, he has finished in the Top-5 in college basketball each of the last three seasons (#5 2011-12, #5 2012-13, #3 2013-14). He was also the No. 1 NBA handicapper from 2012-13. As of early April, Jack has compiled an 802-631 basketball run that has seen his $1,000 game players profit $124,030. He was the No. 3 College Football handicapper in 2012-13. While he doesn't have any top finishes in the NFL, he has produced steady profits without killing his clients. Jack also was your No. 7 MLB handicapper in 2009 and backed it up with a No. 8 MLB finish in 2010. No matter the sport, the one thing you can count on with Jack Jones is that he won't leave any stone unturned. You'll know why he is on a game with his detailed analysis, and more times than not, you will come out well ahead against your book. Head on over to Jack's premium pick page to see what he has in store for tonight!
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