ARIZONA CARDINALS: Red Birds Ready To Fly

NFC WEST 2016 SEASON PREVIEW 

August 31st, 2016 

Offensive Nuggets

The Cardinals are stacked on offense and primed to take over the NFC West.  There’s no getting around the offensive juggernaut this team has become, and this didn’t happen over night.  They are five deep at WR, and three deep at RB.  TE is a little weak with Darren Fells, but he’s more than a warm body in there.  Their offensive line got even better in the off-season with the signing of Evan Mathis from the Super Bowl Champs Denver Broncos.  The Arizona Cardinals return everyone important to this offense, in fact they didn’t lose a single player from last years roster that gained yardage for them or scored points for them in 2015.  Carson Palmer’s injury history is always a concern, but assuming he’s put that behind him, as he did last season –this team should be able to lock of the division title.

Defensive Nuggets

The oldest player on the defensive side of the ball is Patrick Peterson with five years experience.  Being smack dab in the middle of his prime Peterson will anchor easily the youngest most athletic defense in the NFL.  They are deep at every level, and are set to start 2016 third round draft pick Brandon Williams in the secondary.  This team matches up well with every offense in their division including the Seahawks, who claim to have the best roster they’ve had in years.  Don’t fall for Pete Carroll’s propaganda – the Seahawks have lost a lot of players on their O-line, as well as their Marshawn Lynch, and Jimmy Graham is hobbled.  Why talk about the Seahawks, on an Arizona preview???? It’s because Seattle scares everyone, and as long as Russell Wilson is under center there’s reason to be scared…. Unless you are the 2016 Arizona Cardinals of course, so have faith Cardinal Nation.

Don’t Forget

Ummm Robert Nkemdiche if it weren’t for his off the field issues would’ve been a top pick in the 2016 draft.  The Ole Miss stand out now falls into a situation that couldn’t be any better.  There’s not a better unit in the NFL that can bring in an athlete who can’t handle their affairs.  If Bruce Arians and company can keep Tyrann Mathieu with his off the field issues on the straight, there’s no reason to think Nkemdiche can’t make a difference.  It was high-risk high reward for the Cardinals and this could pay off in a big way for an already stacked defense.

X-Factor

J.J. Nelson gives the Cardinals exquisite depth at the WR position.  His blazing speed is enough to be a game changer and his skill set off sets that of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.  He’ll have low targets, resulting in low volume, but could be a play maker coming in on three WR sets.   Keep an eye on Nelson this season.

Fantasy Fruit

Carson Palmer is a daily fantasy dream, but if you can get him on the cheap in your season long league pull the trigger.  Palmer’s injury history still makes him a risky pick, but in DFS he’s a killer.  David Johnson is a projected high first round pick, but remember a healthy Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will eat into his volume.  Bruce Arian’s doesn’t care about your fantasy team.

Verdict

The Cardinals have an incredibly tough schedule including trips to Carolina and Minnesota.  They also have to host New England and the Jets, plus they play in a division where three teams could make the playoffs.  It will be tough mudding for the Cards, but if winning the division is the goal, it’s doable, and they’ll be battle tested.  11-5 should be enough to secure a top two seed in the NFC, but they’ll need the tiebreak to get the nod over the Seahawks who won’t have as good of a division record.  Getting to the playoffs in that division is win in and of itself.

The Arizona Cardinals are a -6.0 point home favorite vs. the New England Patriots in week 1 of the NFL season. Get all of your NFL odds in our daily lines section.

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