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NFL predictions: Steve Mariucci believes Arizona Cardinals will win NFC West

It will hinge on Carson Palmer's health, though.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the release of the NFL schedule, the predictions have begun. Already the Arizona Cardinal are getting some respect. During the NFL Network schedule preview on Tuesday, Steve Mariucci made a bold prediction --- one that didn't get much of a reaction from the fans watching in the studio.

He gave his prediction for which team would win the NFC West.

"It's a tough division. It's not going to be the Niners or the Rams. You're probably going to expect me to say the Seahawks, aren't you?

"Not so fast! You lose Byron Maxwell, right? Max Unger, the starting center. But, most importantly, they lost (defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn and Kenny Norton. They've lost a bunch. They've still got a lot over there. They're still a good team.

"But the Arizona Cardinals, if Carson Palmer stays healthy -- the guy was 6-0 last year, and they got better. They got Mike Iupati and Cory Redding, and they've got (LaMarr) Woodley and (Sean) Weatherspoon. They have added to the team. They are knocking on the door. That's a playoff team and I say if Carson Palmer stays healthy, Arizona wins that division."

If Palmer is healthy all season, they will win the division. While that is a bit of a bold statement, it isn't a huge reach. After all, had Carson Palmer stayed healthy last season, Arizona probably would have won the division then, too. That's how things were looking then.

Of course, Palmer staying healthy is not a sure thing. Yes, he took all but three snaps in 2013 (only coming out when Patrick Peterson took direct snaps), but he is a guy who has had two major knee surgeries, a should issue and an elbow issue in his career.

Arizona has big expectations this season. They might not be the favorites in the division according to many, but the team is very open about saying they expect to be a Super Bowl team this season.

Steve Mariucci is on board. Are you?