The staff predictions are in for the 2016 season, take a look at what we expect the 2016 season for the Arizona Cardinals to look like.
The Cardinals go 11-5 and win the NFC West, secure a first round bye, but lose their first playoff game. This team is too good to be true. After a successful season, the pressure to improve off of last season’s run and the focus on winning the Super Bowl rather than taking the playoffs game by game will be the demise in the the postseason. I predict they lose the playoff game not because the other team is better, but because of mental errors. The good news is that I also thought the Panthers were going to beat the Broncos.
foresee the Cardinals having a season similar to that of their 2015regular season. Yes, the team has made some key upgrades in the forms of Chandler Jones, Robert Nkemdiche, etc., but the division only continues to get better, as does the NFC. The Cardinals have a tough schedule ahead of them, but under the direction of Bruce Arians, this team should do okay.
Final win total prediction: 13-3
I generally avoid season predictions because it's so hard to predict all the variables in football. 22 men on the field, injuries, depth players, when the game is played, where the game is played, etc. So to the best of my ability and based on how good I think the Cardinals are going to be this year I foresee a 12-4 season.
Cardinals start the season with two wins, one over the injured Patriots and a followup blowout of the Buccaneers. In typical Cardinal fashion they lose their early East Coast game against the Bills for the first loss of the season. The Cardinals then go on a four game winning streak to dispatch the Rams, 49ers, Jets and Seahawks in dramatic fashion. The fun ends in another early East Coast game against the Panthers at their house. The Cardinals battle but make uncharacteristic mistakes trying to redeem their playoff last season.
The second half of the season starts with a flurry of wins against lessor teams. The 49ers stink, the Vikings are still good but without Teddy Bridgewater they lack the QB punch needed, and the Falcons, Redskins and Dolphins fall to the humming Cardinals offense led by early season MVP David Johnson (heck, might as well predict big if we're going to predict at all). Then in typical fashion the Cardinals lose to the Seahawks at their house, because as has been their habit the Seahawks find a way to finish their season really strong. The Cardinals then lose their final game to the Rams because they're the Rams and they do that. It snatches first place from the Cardinals but they still settle for the second seed and a matchup against none other than the Hawks who they smash in the playoffs (because I don't like them and this is my fantasy prediction).
The Cardinals win the Super Bowl and Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald ride off into the sunset. The fans celebrate rowdily for a while (Phoenix turns into a large Mill Ave for two weeks) until Gungus reminds us we just lost our best QB in years and the man, the myth, the legend, Larry Fitzgerald has left the building for a final time. After a collective group hug, Keim makes some trades and... okay, I should stop here.
The Arizona Cardinals continue their trend of getting better every season. A 13-3 season last year, means a 14 win season this year. The Cardinals should breeze to a 3-0 start. Their first true test will come against the Rams in Week 4. Like last year, the Rams could have the Cardinals number, but in that game David Johnson put the Cardinals behind early, and they had to fight back. One year in, David Johnson is expected to have a good season, and will be a key part to the Cardinals win in week four. The Cardinals will enter their Week 9 bye, 7-1, losing in Carolina to end their first eight games.
On paper, the Cardinals final eight teams don't look too intimidating. Their toughest tests will be the Redskins in Arizona in Week 13, and a Week 16 matchup in Seattle. The Seattle Offensive Line looks to be the weakest spot on the team, and could cost the Seahawks a number of wins this season. However, Arizona won their last season, and will continue that trend. The Cardinals, with a 15 win season in sight, will lose to the Rams in Week 17, resting their starters in the final half.
After a 13-3 season and a berth in the NFC Championship Game in 2015, the pressure and expectations are only higher for the 2016 campaign. The season starts with a potential trap game- facing the Patriots, who are sans Brady, Gronk, Ninkovich, and Dion Lewis. This game will go a long way to showing the maturity and focus the team for the upcoming season. I think they take care of business at home with a solid win en-route to a hot start. The biggest tests for this team after are the rival Seahawks, a trip to the NFC Champ Panthers, and a visit to the Vikings, late in the season. Maybe I'm biased, but other than those games, this team, with its talent, should win the rest. Yes, The Bills, Jets, and Bucs won't be gimmes, and division games are never easy, but let's be honest- this team is heavily considered a top team in conference and the schedule isn't overly difficult. I see this team equaling the 13-3 mark they set last year, and winning the division again. Losses? I see a split with the Hawks, a loss to Carolina (they have not proven to me we can win in CAR), and another loss to a team we should not lose to, but will. Maybe at SF on the short week, or a late season trip to Miami, or a letdown while hosting Brees and the Saints. But that's fine- it happens. But it can't happen in January, because let's face it, the expectations for this season is Super Bowl or Bust, and I have yet to see these Cardinals play a complete game in January.
13-3 Considering that the Cardinals went 13-3 with (I believe) a tougher schedule last year, I am going to take the upside on the Cardinals this year and say they will equal that record, in part because their offense has changed nothing at the skill position and they’ve only gotten stronger on the offensive and defensive lines. Meanwhile, Seattle has grown weaker on the O-line and I think that will be the big difference between the two teams and why Arizona takes the division.
I could be a contrarian and aim closer to 11-5 (citing Palmer’s turnovers to potentially increase and a new look secondary), but short of a catastrophic injury, it’s not difficult to see Arizona remaining the cream of the crop in the NFC West. And with a schedule that doesn’t feature a top-ten Quarterback until their seventh game of the season, Arizona should get off to a fast start. The middle stretch of the season will be the most difficult, having to face Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and the Vikings defense, before closing out versus Drew Brees and Seattle again.
But this same offense went into worse situations in last year versus Seattle and Cincinnati and managed to find ways to win in the big games. That’s what a Bruce Arians-led team does. The highest I COULD see them go is 14-2.
But hat said, like any NFL team, they find ways to drop a few games to teams that they were better than as well (See: Landry Jones and Nick Foles). The final placement of the team going into Week 17 will be key as well for the record total depending on if the last game vs. St. Louis will mean anything.
As for the playoffs, I think this team will be able to earn a bye and host a home playoff game at the least, and will win that and make it to the NFC Championship game.
From there it will depend on one thing: is it at home? I don’t know if I can see them winning a playoff game in Lambeau or BofA Stadium, or even Century Link Field given the past track record.
But if that game is played in the desert?
Houston, we have lift-off.
The Cardinals will lose in Carolina and once to Seattle, maybe even two times depending on how far ahead they are when they get Seattle in the second game. Meanwhile, I always assume that one game goes off the rails, it does every year for the Cardinals.
Palmer does slightly worse this season statistically, but it allows the Cardinals to become more reliant on David Johnson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.
Defensively, by the end of the season, the Arizona Cardinals are turning it on and becoming something special.
Once in the playoffs, I am not sure, but I think they are going to be better equipped to win in January and maybe February.