With the season about to start for the Arizona Cardinals, it was time to put the ROTB staff to work and to give some predictions for the upcoming season.
What do our writers have to say about the prospects of the Cardinals' season?
Cardinals record: 12-4
When you look at the Cardinals schedule, they open against three weaker teams. Not tot take away from the Chargers, but if you pit Arizona's starting defense against their starting offense, Arizona comes out on top. They follow that up with a trip to the east coast. Historically, the Cardinals are atrocious on the east coast, but under Bruce Arians they are 1-1 while on the East Coast. (should have been 2-0 but I digress). After that they host the 49ers, who despite all their offensive weapons have struggled all preseason, due to the tension between their head coach and general manager. They very easily have a shot at opening 3-0, heading into the Broncos game rested after the early bye.
After the Broncos, seven of our next 12 games are against teams that finished .500 or worse, They don't travel far for their away games, with the farthest being in Atlanta. The team has a very real shot at going over the 10 win mark this season, especially with the Rams in limbo, an early home game against the struggling 49ers, and playing Seattle in Arizona on December 21st, who should have that first round bye solidified by then.
Other NFC West Records: Seattle 13-3
San Francisco 9-7
St. Louis 4-12
I predict a repeat of 2013, but with a different result. I thought the 49ers could have been the best team in football this year. They are much improved on offense with Crabtree back healthy, Boldin, Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington and Carlos Hyde. The team also appeared to have Aldon Smith for the entire season.
Well, what a crap (or wonderful, depending on your perception) off-season for the 49ers. Their offense will be improved but their defense isn't as scary as it use to be. I think the Cardinals can make the wildcard over the 49ers and eek into the playoffs. I think the other wildcard will come from the NFC North, leaving the NFC West battling for the other wild card spot.
This is a tough one for me. Considering the losses to their defense it could be bad, but their offense could be a real powerhouse in 2014. I'll say the Arizona Cardinals can finish anywhere from 7-9 to 11-5, but if I had to absolutely choose one, I'll say say finish with the same record as last season 10-6. I would love to see them make it into the playoffs this time around, but I think they will fall short yet again.
I have the Seattle Seahawks winning the division for a second year in a row, as well as a potential repeat ofSuper Bowl Champions. The San Francisco 49ers had a troubling off-season in which one would think they will struggle to maintain their dominance in the NFC West and a quest for a 4th straight run to the playoffs, but they still just might be strong enough to make it work, especially once they get everybody they lost to injury and suspension mid-season, however I do not see them reaching the NFC Championship game in 2014.
The St. Louis Rams I believe could finish anywhere from 7-9 to 8-8. That Defense will mask the loss of Sam Bradford, but it won't be enough to get them past the other 3 teams in that division.
I believe it will be a rematch of tonight's game to open the 2014 season between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers to decide the NFC Champion, with the Seattle Seahawks beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 49 in Glendale Arizona to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
There is little doubt in my mind that the NFC West is the best division in the NFL, and that will be the truth again in 2014. The Seahawks displayed why they are the best team in the NFL in their first game of the season, and their offense looks even more dynamic with Percy Harvin healthy.
The 49ers are taking a step back...only it won't be as severe as Cardinals fans hope. Colin Kaepernick is going to take the next step and the 49ers offense will be that much better in 2014.
Everyone knows what the Cardinals will be -- a potentially dominant offense, maybe the best run defense in the NFL, and some questions getting to the quarterback and running the ball. That is why I have them in third in the division...again.
Maybe the Rams get a quarterback in the 2015 draft. Actually, keep the Sam Bradford experiment going please.
Rest of the division:
St. Louis: 8-8
I'm not as optimistic as most fans.. of course I never am. However try as I might I just couldn't make an argument that the Cardinals would lose seven games. Outside the division I expect at least one early upset, maybe even Monday against the Chargers. Losses to the Broncos and Eagles, both with offenses which can expose our weaknesses on defense. However, I think the Chiefs take a step back this season. The Cowboys and Lions are still too dysfunctional, Washington and New York and Falcons? Just not enough talent yet.
But despite a tough last six weeks with three division games I think the Cards beat the Rams (twice this season!), the 49ers will win at least one, because GOSH DARN IT CAN WE PLEASE JUST STOP THEIR TIGHT ENDS!
I know what you're all thinking now though, "Rob, that adds to four losses with one team left." That's right, I think we're going to drop two to the Seahawks. However, my one caveat is that if we beat the Seahawks once, that means we will lose one game to the 49ers. Cosmic balance is on the line if we didn't blow one game.
Seattle - 13-3, dropping one game to the San Fran, a Carolina and Kansas City (I said regressed, not bad) upset.
St. Louis - 7-9, no division wins, one dropped game to either the Bucs or Vikes and losses to DEN. Beating the Eagles, because they have to at least remember our worst is still better than the NFC East's best and they end up beating on the remaining non-division foes the last 6 weeks.
I spoke of this on the season preview podcast. It is hard to pick the Cardinals to be anything but third in the division. They will be solid. I like the offense and the defense should be good to great still and the rush defense should still be elite.
I think they split their divisional games, getting swept by Seattle, sweeping St. Louis and splitting with San Fran. The lose on the road to Denver at home to the Eagles (I don't think they will run the tables at home) and on the road to Atlanta.
The bad part? 10-6 will still not get them into the playoffs.
The rest of the division goes with Seattle at the top at 12-4, San Fran at 11-5 and St. Louis at 7-9.