Before the 2009 season ever began, I made five outrageous predictions. Looking back at them, they turned out to be less outrageous then I originally anticipated. In fact, I'd say I was dead-on for two of the predictions, and not that far out of sight on the rest. Let's take a look.
1. Kurt Warner will miss 1 or more games at one point throughout the year. Now this prediction goes hand in hand with another one: Matt Leinart will fill in for Warner and have an outstanding performance. Call it high-hopes or whatever you want, but Leinart has had plenty of time to develop and learn under a 2-time MVP. Kurt is 38 now and the odds of him facing injury are very high. If Matt needs to step in, he has one of the most explosive offenses behind him and possibly the best wide receiver tandem in the game. He will surprise many fans and have a great game.
Wow, was I very close on this one or what? Kurt Warner did miss one game - against the Titans - and back up Matt Leinart started in his place. I guess Matty didn't have an amazing game, but he gave us plenty of hope after leading the Cardinals on a key scoring drive in the second half. The Cardinals didn't win but Leinart was the leader of the team that day and didn't make many mistakes.
2. The Cardinals defense will be tops in the NFC West. I won't go too outrageous and say they will be the best in the NFC, but I really thinks its possible within the division. The defense is currently coming off a great run in the playoffs, and with Bill Davis as the new defensive coordinator, it brings the stability that Clancy lacked. With the maturity of some younger players and even the older ones, it will only help the defense as well. The additions of Johnson, Brown, and Toler also bring depth and talent
Hmmm. Ok so the Cardinals defense wasn't the best in the NFC West for the entire year, but they did have a 6-7 game stretch where they were. The 49ers obviously were better on defense, but the Cardinals still played well - aside from the playoffs.
3. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower will account for over 1,500 Yards and 12 touchdowns. It's actually not asking a lot but for the Cardinals it would be a huge improvement. With Hightower further developing and losing weight, hopefully he can shed away his dancing ways and gain more then 2.8 ypc. Wells brings a punishing runner to the rushing game and should have a successful rookie year. If he can stay healthy, hopefully will see some 20+ long runs.
I'm glad that this one turned out to be correct. They had a combined 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year. Hightower bumped his YPC to 4.2, and Beanie Wells had 28 runs for over 10 yards.
4. Larry Fitzgerald's post season run will carry over into 2009. This isn't saying Fitzgerald will have a great season(once again). I'm saying Fitzgerald will have the best season of his career in 2009 and possibly one of the best seasons for a wide receiver all time. He flew all over some of the top defenses in the league in last year's playoffs, and made Pittsburgh's #1 defense look mediocre. He's returning in top form and with Kurt Warner and possibly Anquan Boldin to compliment him, there's no reason why he shouldn't dominate the league in '09.
I'll admit that this prediction never turned out to be what I it would once be. The play calling took a dip and as a result, so did Fitzgerald's stats. While he did have a career high in touchdowns(13), the big play that the Cardinals relied upon in the playoffs was severely lacking. This year was nowhere near record-breaking.
5. Finally, the Cardinals will make the Super Bowl again in 2009. It's very difficult for a team to make the Super Bowl once, but to make it again is nearly impossible. But with the Cardinals roster ever improving, not losing many key players to free agency, and the quality of depth taken in the draft, the Cardinals of '09 will have a better overall team then '08. They also have the advantage of a weaker division and that thing called home field advantage.
No the Cardinals didn't make the Super Bowl, but I couldn't have been that far off right? They did advance to the divisional round of the playoffs and I'll conclude that they were a better regular season team then the 2008 Cardinals.
2009 was a wild season filled with highs and lows. The Cardinals showed signs of a solid foundation, and I'm sure I'll have some more outrageous predictions before the start of next season.