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Arizona Cardinals X-Factor for 2016

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Who would you choose to be the Arizona Cardinals X-Factor for the 2016 season

NFL: Preseason-Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals have expectations in 2016 and maybe for the first time in the history of the team in Arizona, those expectations involve playing in February.

For the Cardinals to meet those expectations, it will come down to a lot of factors, health being key.

The Ringer though, talked about each team’s “X-Factor” for the 2016 season and the Arizona Cardinals was their big off season acquisition.

To understand the criteria, here is what Danny Kelly outlines:

It’s the guy who comes into the season with a wide range of possible outcomes — and whichever one he achieves will likely have an outsize impact upon his team’s fortunes.

From Danny Kelly’s article:

Arizona Cardinals: OLB Chandler Jones

The Cardinals desperately needed to upgrade their pass rush, and the trade for New England’s Chandler Jones did exactly that … on paper. He’s an athletic freak who produced 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception for the Patriots last year. Of course, there’s always risk involved with big-ticket trades — and that is especially true when you’re dealing with Bill Belichick.

The idea of Belichick always being on top of trades is a common one, but I think it is generally looked at as though the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots both made out in the deal.

The interesting thing to me is, I don’t personally see Jones as the X-Factor for the Cardinals.

I agree his play is going to be important and the Cardinals can overcome a lot if he is on the field and producing but to me the X-Factor for the Arizona Cardinals is simply Tyrann Mathieu.

Is he going to be the same player who was a defensive player of the year candidate in 2015? What will the second ACL tear do to him not just physically but mentally?

The Cardinals defense was very, very good in 2015 when Mathieu was on the field, but outside of one game against the Green Bay packers the week after the injury, the defense looked like they were without their leader the rest of the time.

Maybe Mathieu’s presence is too much to count as an X-Factor, so he was left off, but I think no player on the 2016 Arizona Cardinals, outside of Carson Palmer, is as important as Mathieu.

Who is your X-Factor for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016?