2015 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

2015 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

The 2014 Arizona Cardinals advanced to the playoffs despite season-ending injuries to Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington. A defense that ranked 5th in points allowed offset a sporadic offense that endured Ryan Lindley and Drew Stanton under center, and the likes of Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor in the backfield. The good news is both Palmer and Ellington are healthy entering the 2015 season. As such, expectations are super high, pun intended. Bruce Arians has proven to be one of the league’s top coaches and has a talented roster at his disposal. And it would be even better if suspended linebacker Daryl Washington is cleared to play after sitting out 2014. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Arizona Cardinals.

Outlook: Palmer was playing well before tearing his ACL in Week 6 of last season. At 35, he is nearing the twilight of his career, but appears to have enough zip to make a serious run in the NFC. With Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown at wide receiver, the weapons are legit. Toss in Ellington’s dual-threat abilities and the offense has the potential to be very good as long as the upgraded offensive line remains intact. The defense is stout after adding some key free agents to bolster depth. Barring a glut of catastrophic injuries, the Cards will be in the playoff hunt all season.

Later, dude: A concussion ended John Abraham’s 2014 season after one game, and ultimately his career at age 37; he retired ranked 10th on the All-Time sacks list. Linebacker Larry Foote joined the Cardinals’ coaching staff in February, thus concluding a brilliant 13-year career. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was solid in one season, but elected to reunite with Darrelle Revis in New York on a 4-year, $32 million deal. Defensive tackle Dan Williams notched only two sacks in five seasons as a part-time player, and yet the Raiders felt inclined to hand him a 4-year, $25 million contract. Guard Paul Fanaika became expendable once they inked a three-time Pro Bowler in free agency. Tight end Rob Housler is a mediocre pass catcher, so he won’t be missed. Linebacker Sam Acho totaled 11 sacks in 2011 and 2012, but just 2 in 2013 and 2014; he’s now a Bear.

Welcome aboard: The aforementioned three-time Pro Bowl lineman added was Mike Iupati, at a price of 5-year, $40 million. Joining him on the rebuilt line is journeyman center A.Q. Shipley. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon missed nine games in 2013, and all of 2014 with a ruptured Achilles; if he can return to his pre-injury form, he’ll be a nice addition to the middle of the defense. Defensive tackle Corey Peters basically replaces Williams in the nose tackle rotation. Veterans Corey Redding and LaMarr Woodley bring experience and depth to the front seven. First-round offensive tackle D.J. Humphries doesn’t need to contribute right away, but he has the skill to push for snaps. Chris Johnson is a shadow of the guy who ran for 2000 yards in 2009, but he provides insurance behind Ellington.

Over/Under wins – 8.5: Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore in the middle of the schedule, and Philly, Green Bay, and Seattle to end the season. Ugh, that’s rough. Nevertheless, this team is better than their number.

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