The Arizona Cardinals take on the Detroit Lions to open the 2017 season in a few days, have completed their 53-man roster and set their practice squad. Let’s celebrate by making five predictions for the 2017 season.
Carson Palmer has his worst statistical year and best season as an Arizona Cardinal
I know what you are thinking... What? The Cardinals have been a team that relied heavily on Palmer’s play. With the ascension of David Johnson, the athletic prowess of the defense and Bruce Arians love of big plays, I think we can see a small shift in philosophy.
Carson Palmer - 4158 yards 24 Touchdowns 9 Interceptions
David Johnson Goes over 2,500 yards from scrimmage
This may not seem like a bold prediction, but only Chris Johnson has had such a season in NFL history.
Johnson will improve as a runner on his 4.2 yards per carry average and maintain his pace as a receiver.
David Johnson - 320 carries 1568 yards 4.9 yards per carry
83 receptions 958 yards
Arizona Cardinals allow less than 25 sacks on season
While there are a lot of questions heading into the season along the offensive line, there is one thing that the Cardinals can control and that is how they attack in the passing game. To allow less than 25 sacks on the season, it will take a lot of David Johnson, see above, and more of a quick strike passing offense. I thought we saw that at the end of the 2016 and it will continue in 2017.
Robert Nkemdiche has six or more quarterbacks sacks on the season
Clearly this is barring health, and that is for all of the above, but no player seemed more poise for a breakout campaign in 2017 than Nkemdiche. Rushing from the interior is something the Cardinals lost with Calais Campbell and that is something that Nkemdiche can replace immediately.
Arizona Cardinals lead NFL in turnover margin
Going back to the first two items, a regression in use of Palmer should reduce the number of interceptions, while an influx of use of David Johnson should continue to give the Cardinals more possessions and longer drive times. The reason the Cardinals can capitalize on that on defense is because it will allow the Cardinals to be more aggressive and take more chances, especially if they are playing from in front.
What are some of your bold predictions for 2017?