NFL 2010 Football Predictions: Arizona Cardinals
TheSportsWatchers want to get you in shape for the upcoming 2010 NFL football season. So in the spirit of NFL training camp, we are doing two-a-days to get you in gear for each and every NFL team.
The Arizona Cardinals made it to the playoffs last year after winning a weak NFC West. However, with the loss of a Hall of Fame quarterback, can they continue to win the division, or is their reign over?
2009 NFL Recap for the Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals entered 2009 with big aspirations. They were fresh off a narrow loss in the Super Bowl, and it seemed as if their franchise was in the fast lane with no intentions of looking back. Well, that’s exactly what they did in 2009, once again proving to be an offensive juggernaut. The Cardinals started off the year 4-2 by beating the likes of the Houston Texans and New York Giants. They would also go on to beat the Minnesota Vikings late in the season. Still, when it came to beating teams with commendable defenses, such as the 49ers, Colts, Titans, Panthers and Packers, the Cardinals came up short, including two losses to the 49ers. However, being in the NFC West afforded them such mediocre play against good teams, as they swept both the Seahawks and the Rams to get 4 easy wins.
Kurt Warner was awesome throughout the season, throwing for 3,753 passing yards and 26 touchdowns on the year. Larry Fitzgerald had a down year, but still managed to break the 1,000-yard double-digit touchdown mark, and Chris Beanie Wells managed to step up as the team’s premiere rusher.
Despite all of that talent at the skilled positions on offense, their defense killed them in the postseason. Arizona stole a win in overtime against the Green Bay Packers after surrendering a 21-point third-quarter lead. But in the NFC Divisional Round, the defense let up again, giving up 45 points for the second week in a row to the New Orleans Saints.
Arizona Cardinals 2010 Offseason Transactions
The most noteworthy part of the Cardinals offseason was Kurt Warner’s decision to retire. Of course, when the biggest thing that happens to a team in the offseason is the loss of a player, it’s hard to call the offseason a success. In addition to losing Warner, the Cardinals released S Antrel Rolle and Kicker Mike Nugent. To bolster the quarterback position, head coach Ken Whisenhunt brought QB Derek Anderson in to challenge Matt Leinart for the quarterback spot. Of course, defense is where the Cardinals struggled the most, so signing LB Joey Porter, LB Paris Lenon, LB Stevie Braggs all made sense. As did drafting rookie DT Dan Williams in the first round. The Cardinals had another significant loss when they sent Anquan Boldin packing and re-signed WR Steve Breaston to a brand new deal.
2010 NFL Prediction for the Arizona Cardinals
The NFC West is going to be in contention this year. The Cardinals no longer had the clear advantage at the quarterback position, which brings them back to the rest of the pack. Matt Leinart will have his work cut out for him too. He has to face Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tony Romo and Matt Hasselbeck this season, all of which are better quarterbacks than Leinart has ever been. It doesn’t help that Leinart lost one of the best receivers in the league in Anquan Boldin. Sure, Breaston is a nice fill-in, but who fills Breaston’s roll as the #3 guy? And despite Beanie Wells’ emergence last season, the Cardinals do not have a proven running game, which will leave Leinart susceptible to the same blitzes that caused him to lose his starting job in the first place. Expect Larry Fitzgerald to suffer as a result of Leinart’s play, as well.
On the defensive side of the football, the Cardinals didn’t do much to improve their unit. Joey Porter might rush the quarterback some, but he’s far, far from his days as a double-digit sack guy. Darnell Dockett should continue to be a force inside, and maybe that will free up Porter and some of the other rushers, but one can’t be too sure. In the backfield, the Cardinals do have some big names. Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson are two safeties that are superb when it comes to stopping the run. They both have range as deep droppers, but neither is great in man-to-man coverage, and teams certainly will exploit that when the opportunities are there. Thankfully, the Cardinals do have one person in their secondary that can play man, that being CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had six interceptions for the Cardinals last season.
All and all, the schedule isn’t too tough for the Cardinals. The problem is that it is unlikely the Cardinals will win any of the few tough games they have if Leinart doesn’t play as well as Warner has in the past. Since Leinart is no Kurt Warner in our book, we have the Cardinals regressing to a record of 8-8 during the 2010 NFL football season.
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