2015 is a big year for the Arizona Cardinals. They have high hopes -- even Super bowl aspirations. After 21 wins in two seasons and a playoff appearance under head coach Bruce Arians, Arizona wants more. The postseason is an expectation and anything less will be a disappointment.
So how will the Cardinals do this year?
I asked the ROTB writing staff to give me their 2015 predictions. Here they are:
Jess Root: 10-6
I think this team has a pretty high floor and a very high ceiling. A lot has to go their way, but the way the schedule plays out for the Cardinals to start and end the season are very favorable. I see a 4-2 division record, splitting with the Seahawks and 49ers and then sweeping the Rams. I see a 6-2 home record and a 4-4 road record. I can't logically pick the Cardinals to win the division because the Seahawks are still so very talented, so I say the Cards are a wild card team.
For SB Nation, I predicted the Cardinals would be a Super Bowl team against the Colts. I odn't know if that will happen, but I expect a successful Cardinals season.
Seth Cox: 11-5
It's 2015, I'm turning 30 this year and the Arizona Cardinals are considered by some, a favorite in the NFC. If this is a dream, don't wake me up.
As for the reality, I am not a huge fan of whole seasons predictions, simply because there is so much that can happen throughout the season that we can't predict, but I'll say this, I think the Cardinals floor is 7 losses, and I think they're ceiling is 12 wins.
Jess is the boss and says I have to make a prediction, so I'll say 11-5, the first wild card spot and a first round win. After that, it's about getting the right combination of Seattle and Green Bay and putting yourself into a position to play for an NFC Championship. Anything less, with a healthy team and it might be a disappointing season. Man, how times have changed.
Jesse Reynolds: 11-5
I see the Cardinals going 11-5, starting very quick like last year shooting off to a 5-0 start before stumbling to the Steelers away. Game four against the Rams is the big question mark as their front four and deep D-line rotation could make for a very bad day for Palmer and the offense. The Rams offense, or lack there of, is why I see a win.
There I see the Cardinals falling in Monday night football against the Ravens who will eek out a win. The Cardinals will regain form and win the majority of their games but with losses against the Packers, the Seahawks and the Eagles in a brutal end the season schedule.
Crazy predictions is that Ellington does not end the season as the starter as the physicality of either of Chris Johnson or David Johnson takes the starting spot, relegating Ellington to a Darren Sproles like role where he will flourish and wreak havoc. I also think we will see only one player go over a thousand yards receiving as the RBs, the TEs and the sublime depth of our WRs will all get solid receptions and yards. That lone 1k receiver? John Brown, who seems to have built great chemistry with Palmer. I think a Brown could have a TY Hilton type of season with 80 plus receptions and over 1.1k yards receiving.
On defense I think we see a repeat of 2014, top notch run defense though with some breakdowns due to lacking ILB play. The secondary will play well overall but will also give up a lot of yards due to a lackluster pass rush. If a pass rusher emerges opposite of Alex Okafor I could see the Cardinals secondary being healthy and hold out Seattle secondary good.
Tyler Derby: 10-6 or 11-5
The Cardinals will have one of the top 5 toughest strength of schedules in 2015. With that being said, having Palmer back is a huge plus for the Cardinals and his health will be vital to their success this season. If he stays healthy then there is no limit to how far this team could possibly go. Losing Todd Bowles will hurt a little, but there are enough of the key defensive pieces back that it shouldn't be a huge factor for the team.
Really the biggest factor for the 2015 season will come down to health. If guys can stay on the field then this team can make a deep playoff run and possibly a Super Bowl run. It is definitely an exciting time to be a Cardinals fan.
Bruce Arians says this is the best Cardinals team we've had and who's to argue. That would mean an improvement over last year's 11-5 record and quite possibly a first round bye. After that who knows, as I'm not inclined to predict outcomes of games 4 or 5 months from now against unknown opponents. That said, I see no reason why the team can't go all the way -- that's up to them.
Once all the pieces are in place and the offense becomes a finely tuned machine, I'm expecting a true balanced offense that becomes a force in the league.
Robert Norman: 11-5
After two years of watching the Cardinals exceed expectations, I have finally decided to be an optimistic fan and think highly of the team. Offensively, the Cardinals have Carson Palmer healthy. The running game is bolstered with a healthy Andre Ellington, David and Chris Johnson. Along with the deepest wide receiver core I can remember and possibly the best offensive line within the past decade. Meanwhile, most of the concerns on defense are about new coordinator James Bettcher. Based on the preseason those concerns are unfounded and the talent pool is just as deep as before.